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Crap and Frustrating Customer Service

Over the past week or so, I’ve encountered a couple of issues that have really annoyed me and caused me to question the customer service of a couple of companies – two banks actually.

It’s interesting that a lot has been made recently regarding companies that provide poor customer service – witness this discussion thread on AskAboutMoney, or this one particularly focused on NTL.

Having dealt with both PermanentTSB (via their ATM service) and Ulster Bank (via their telephone banking service) recently it seems to me that there’s situations where poor IT systems and process design is unnecessarily leading to poor customer service.

Take the PermanentTSB ATM for example. One day last week I actually wanted a receipt for a withdrawal. The process went something like this.

ATM: Would you like a receipt? Yes/No
Me: Yes
ATM: Are you sure you’d
like a receipt? Yes/No
Me: Yes
ATM: Do you realise receipts are bad for
the environment? Continue?
Me: I know, but I need one this time.
ATM: PermanentTSB and other Irish banks are committed to reducing
litter. Continue?
Me: Yes, damn it, continue!
ATM: We apologies, but the
machine is out of paper, so we cannot provide a receipt. Continue?

You can imagine the frustration at the end of that. For a simple transaction, I was asked 4 times to confirm my requirements, only to be totally pissed off at the end of it. Where does the IT system and process improvement come in here? Well, why couldn’t the system check itself at the beginning of this loop to see if it had any paper? It could then tell me at the start that it had no paper and would I like to continue the transaction, or go else where, instead of annoying me 4 times. Very simple!

To top that, I rang Ulster Bank to find out what my bank balance was (remember this for later – I was ringing to find out my balance). I was expecting a cheque to be lodged and just wanted to confirm it was there.

Ulster Bank: Of course sir, we just need to confirm who you are and complete the
security checks.
Me: Fine, I’m blah blah blah.
Ulster Bank: Thank you. Can
you please confirm your date of birth?
Me: Yes, it’s blah blah!
Bank: Thank you. Finally, can you confirm your balance please?
Me: ??????


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