Banking and customer service

I heard friends talking about a recent visit to one of the top four banks to change the signatory on a social club account. Although an appointment had been made, three club members were kept waiting for over an hour. This was put down to staff shortages. Once a staff member was available, they were surprised at the lengthy and somewhat hap hazard process that followed. After a further 40 minutes or so they left the branch believing the new signatory to the account would be able to initiate and approve payments on the club’s account.

A couple of days later a transaction required approval. When the new signatory logged in to approve the transaction they found they did not have the correct access to approve the payment. This is not an isolated incident. Similar problems have been experienced when the account was originally opened and when other changes of signatory were required. The issues may not have been the same each time, but the result was the same; the signatory could not initiate or approve transactions without further contacting the bank.

Having worked in banking and finance I appreciate maintenance tasks can be involved and time consuming. In this case you need to identify the new signatory in line with legislative requirements and ensure they have authority from the club. They then need to be set up as a customer, be provided with online access and provided with the correct permissions to transact on the account. If the bank gets it right the first time they reduce the cost of providing the service. The bank doesn’t make money from these maintenance tasks, so the process needs to be easily followed by all customer service staff. What is not realised is that if they get it wrong, there is a cost to the bank associated with the word of mouth criticism of the bank.

We all appreciate mistakes happen, but when mistakes happen nearly every time, the process is flawed and needs to be sorted out. One of the banks I worked with spent considerable time documenting these maintenance activities. I recall tabling all the requirements needing to be met for each of the legal entities (individuals, joint account holders, partnerships, companies and associations) and then how the systems were set up for each one. Staff appreciated the easy online access to the instructions through their intranet as they performed the tasks (they didn’t need to rely on memory or ask someone else for assistance). I was pleased when I needed to make a change to a company account and the staff member followed the instructions I had been involved in, to perform the change. They even commented how they appreciated the step by step assistance the instructions provided. This was without even knowing I had a part in developing them.

I believe maintenance processes and their associated instructions should be well documented to reduce the cost of providing these services. Maintenance tasks do not make money, but can cost the organisation dearly if not carried out well. Having to respond to multiple customer enquiries to complete the task is also very costly and frustrating for customers.