Tuesday, 12 November 2013

(Lack of) Customer Service

Today, the blog is from my happy go lucky friend, Colin...

My blog for Stewart today is formed all around customer service, namely from two pretty large companies in the UK - one of them is EE (the people who employ Kevin Bacon to do ridiculous adverts), and Santander (who employ wealthy athletes such as Jessica Hill-Ennis and Lewis Hamilton to sell their already huge product).

I understand that large companies are primarily there to make money in order to keep their shareholders, yet I am disappointed and disheartened at how low these companies appear to value customer service. We'll start with EE.

EE boast to be the largest mobile phone company in the UK, this I believe is true after T-Mobile and Orange merged their UK operations. They are also the first company to bring 4G into the UK. With access to smartphones and our desire to Facebook / Tweet / Surf the internet, speed is everything. Imagine my surprise when I was unable to get 4G access, and struggled with 3G access in both Coventry and Birmingham - both 4G cities (Birmingham being one of the cities that first got 4G). I tweet and surf the internet a fair bit and this was a little frustrating. For the avoidance of any doubt, this was not a momentary glitch, but lasted for several hours! Couple in the fact that I pay around £46 a month for the privilege of such service I was / am understandably a bit disgruntled.

Social Media (particularly Twitter) is a very powerful tool in terms of communication. It allows individuals to communicate with large national and multi-national companies, and pretty much anyone can see a Tweet, thanks to the power of re-tweeting, quoting and (if you really want to get your message across), by "Promoting" the tweet. With this in mind, you'd think that large companies would do all they can to minimise any negative PR showing up on Social Networks. Some companies (such as Northern Rail, PaddyPower, and London Midland) are very good at this - they have a large customer base and work hard to diffuse any complaint - occassionally with humour, but always with information and handy advice.

Not EE. I've complained to EE via Twitter a few times over the past couple of weeks, and their response has been nothing short of disappointing. All they do is say that they look in my account, and cannot find any issues. Fair enough.
So, why do they not look at #EE on Twitter, to see what other customers think? In my brief searches, I have found people to have the same issues in relation to connecting to the internet via 4G (or 3G if you're not so lucky). However, I do not see EE trying very hard to rectify these issues, and I'm unaware as to whether they're working to upgrade their network. A little less money on Kevin Bacon, and a little more investment in the network would do nicely, because at the moment I, for one, won't be renewing my contract with them.

Now, onto Santander. I affectionately refer to them as the 'Wank Bank'. Primarily due to how awful they are.

I went into a Santander branch in a small Northern City and asked for them to transfer £100 from my account into another. Fairly basic. But the hitch was that I wanted it done the following day. No problem the very nice chap said and he assured me it was done.
Fast forward to today when I receive a text from the intended recipient, stating that the money had not gone into her account (despite the Santander man's assurances it would do!). This means I've got some digging to do, not ideal after coming off nightshift. A quick phonecall to Santander's complaints department, and another very helpful chap informed me that the cashier had not in fact sorted the transfer as requested, but instead set up a one monthly standing order. Not what I asked for.
Understandably, I'm not very happy at this. I appreciate that £100 may not seem like a lot of money, but it is to me. I asked the complaints gentleman if I could put a complaint in against the cashier, mainly due to incompetence. To my utter disbelief, I was told NO! Apparently, I've got to go into the store and make the claim to the branch. (How this can lead to an impartial investigation if necessary is beyond me...). Being tired and feeling slightly grim, I didn't bother arguing the toss about the point of an investigations department that didn't handle any complaints from the customer at the first point of contact. But I digress.

So, again, I took to Twitter to have a bit of a whinge about Santander. Within minutes, I had a reply stating that Santander "are absolute bastards". Good start. The same person also told me that Santander refused to give him Ombudsman details, and failed to follow up his complaint. Again, not great for the PR of what is one of the largest banks in the UK.
Santander, in their defence, have gotten back to me, but I am not expecting a positive outcome to this. Their customer service is appalling, in my view highlighted by incompetent staff and an investigation department which doesn't handle complaints!

All I (and many other's want) is decent customer service. We pay enough into these companies (be it via phone bills or by our wages going into our bank accounts), and the service we get is simply not good enough. Something has to change!

If you want to hear more from Colin, you can follow him on twitter here @C_S1991. He is also growing a poor attempt at a moustache for movember so feel free to sponsor him here http://uk.movember.com/mospace/7904309.

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