The opportunity for ‘new’ banks (and don’t try doing business on a bank holiday)

There’s lots of talk about how big the opportunity is for new banks to do banking differently but what really matters is the experience for customers day-to-day.

My colleagues at Disruptive Views have first hand experience of the pain and obstructionism in opening a new business account with a legacy bank. Recently I was reminded how bad customer service can be, from another legacy bank; and this is one that likes to think of itself as a challenger (the only thing that’s challenging about this bank is using them!).

An elderly relative had asked me for some help with a bank account because they wanted to transfer some funds to another bank. They had phoned the bank to discuss this and the result was two letters with instructions to set up online banking. Presumably this was the bank’s suggested way to transfer funds from the account. It wasn’t what my relative wanted but as it seemed a way to resolve the problem they duly set up online banking and made the payment to the other bank. All seemed well and the transaction was confirmed, however a couple of minutes later they were presented with a bland message stating the account was now locked and to call the online help team. Puzzled they duly called the number, experienced the ‘standard banking telephone wait time’ and eventually spoke to an advisor. The advisor took them through security which consisted of asking for their name and date of birth (bit worrying that one) and then stated the account was now locked for fraud checking. Frustrating but it’s good the banks try to keep an eye on these things.

So presumably the fraud team were actively on the case and the account would be unlocked shortly? But no, they don’t work on bank holidays (well why would they, it’s a bank holiday). Apparently they would look at it by the end of the next day and if they needed any further information they would be in touch. I shared my ‘disappointment’ at the slow response times and was asked if we’d like to register a complaint, except that the complaints people don’t work on bank holidays either. Anyway, the next morning the account was mysteriously unlocked with no communication from the bank and the transaction was completed.

One thing that struck me about the whole experience; the most secure part of the process, using online banking, was the bit that caused the problem. The least secure bit; the phone conversation, was what apparently resolved it. The whole experience left me with an uneasy feeling about doing business with that bank and their overall level of (in)competence.

So yes, there’s a huge opportunity for new banks that can get the customer experience right.

This post first appeared on Disruptive Views.