Out shopping yesterday, nipped into the bank to pay in a couple of cheques. A researcher from the bank called me this morning to check how my transaction had gone. How often did I use that branch of the bank? Would I recommend the branch to other people? How likely was I to buy financial products or services from that branch? Did I trust it to offer me financial advice in my best interests? The researcher giggled when I told her, slightly bemused, that I just happened to be passing that branch when I remembered that I had a cheque to pay in – it isn’t as though I keep a mental list of favourite bank branches I have used in the past. But she had a quota of calls to make so we ploughed on. How long had I waited to be served? Had the person behind the counter been polite to me? Called me by my name? Handled my query without being interrupted by other members of staff? What suggestions could I make to improve the experience of using that branch of the bank? I refrained from suggesting that they could do fewer customer surveys and use the money to pay a better rate of interest on their current accounts, and simply assured her that I thought the Canary Wharf branch of Lloyds is just fine and dandy as it is, and thanks for caring what I think.
Things have changed hugely in customer service in the past decade, and thank god for that. I started my working life in the theatre and vividly remember trying to get the box office and stage door staff to do some customer-service training on the grounds that we might do better if we didn’t frighten off one potential customer in every three by being rude to them. Sue, the scarily truculent stage door keeper, refused point-blank to do the training on the grounds that “I don’t work in Disneyland. This is not America”. I wonder how long she lasted (and what she would make of being asked to rate her experience of using a Creditpoint). I’m all in favour of improving customer service, and of gathering feedback from customers to make sure it’s happening. Can’t help thinking that Lloyds are taking things just slightly too far.