26 September 2013

Bank of Scotland 1, Customer Alienation Systems 0

Today I called Bank of Scotland because my credit card has almost snapped in half.

Here’s what happened:

  • I dialled the number on the back of the card.
  • After one ring, a human being answered and said “Hello, Bank of Scotland Card Services. How can I help?”
  • I explained that my card was damaged.
  • He asked for a few details (card number, address, and a couple of other straightforward, reasonable things).
  • And then he said: “No problem at all; we’ll get a new card out to you in the next few days.”

Twenty years ago, that would have been normal. Today, it counts as such exceptional telephone customer service that I was moved to blog about it.

How times change.

By way of comparison, earlier this week (on 24th September), when my land line (and therefore internet) had been down 5 days, and I was trying to get better information from BT on a likely fault resolution date than the website was predicting (23rd September, i.e. the previous day), it took me 40 minutes, multiple lies, multiple security interrogations, multiple holds, interminable muzak, endless exhortations to visit bt.com and inordinate frustration before I succeeded in talking to a human being. And when I did, he not only had no information, but didn’t call back, as he promised to do within 15 minutes.

Twenty years ago, that would have been unimaginable. Today, its as common as the constant “exceptionally high call volumes” that seem to characterize modern customer alienation systems.

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