When we talk about service management, we often refer to IT systems and processes. But there is a human element as well, hence the emphasis on the word service.
I am sure everyone has had to call tech support and troubleshoot a software issue. And we all have our war stories of bad products and bad customer service.
But what do you do when the vendor needs you to solve their problem. Do you fix their issue, or take your business somewhere else?
I have an account with one of the largest banks in the world. I was recently reviewing bank statements online, and saving PDF copies locally. I had no issue opening and saving many different statements, until I tried to open a statement after a particular month. Then, my Internet Explorer browser would open a new blank window, and just hang there. Six months’ worth of statements were not available to me.
There was a change in the Bank’s infrastructure in their use of a new processing clearinghouse. They did have an alert on their website mentioning that I may have two statements for a period of time, as an overlap between the old bank processing and the new. It was immediately apparent to me that the bank statements could easily open in PDF form from their older clearinghouse, but would not work from the new one with my IE8 browser. And of course, I tried to access the statements from multiple computers.
I called the bank’s technical support to see if they could help. The support representative mentioned that they were aware of this issue (in ITIL terms, a known error), and proceeded to describe the symptoms which were an exact match to my experience. He then told me I could try a Safari browser which others had used to some degree of success. “I am using the most often used browser in the world, and this is an issue that you know exists. Why should I have to download and use a different piece of software to be compatible with you, when every company that I do business with supports IE8?” I told the rep.
He agreed to escalate the issue to the appropriate web team, and to get back to me within 2-3 days. Good thing we were not trying to accomplish something important, like online banking with a response like that. Surprisingly, he called me back about 6 hours later with a potential fix from their web team. “That was good service,” I mistakenly thought to myself. He proceeded to give me a few changes to my browser settings, which I had already tried, and knew would not solve the problem.
Since the so called “fix” from the bank did not work, the support rep told me that in order to escalate further, he would need screen shots from my browser which he would forward to the web team. Surprisingly, I could not contact the web team directly. There would be a problem, however, as the support rep could not accept any emails from outside the bank. I would not be able to send him these “required” screen shots - which I am not sure why they needed as this was a known error in the first place! To overcome their inability to accept outside emails, the support rep had a suggestion.
“If you can go down to your local bank branch, you could ask to login from one of their computers” mentioned the representative. “You can then ask them to send the screen shots to my attention, and I will forward to the web team.”
Startled by such a comment, I responded, “If I have to go to a branch to diagnose your known problem, I will just close my account. According to you, this is a known issue. I can open documents and statements from any other company without issue. So if I need to go to a branch to take screen shots to help you diagnose a problem you already know to exist, I will just close the account.”
“Well if you think you need to close the account, then go ahead” said the representative.
I have experienced many examples of bad customer service from banks. This is the first time that any company actually asked me to drive somewhere to document a problem they already know exists. And I might try to understand the bank’s point of view if the technical issue involved something proprietary or unique. But we are talking about an issue involving one of the most common activities - opening a bank statement - in the most ubiquitous of all document formats.
But of course, the bank did not attempt to understand my point of view. And while I know this bank may be a practitioner of service management principles, they certainly do not understand the meaning of the word “service.”
What about all of you? Do any of you have examples of bad customer service from banks or financial institutions? And how many of you have been requested to actually drive somewhere to help a multi-billion dollar company diagnose a problem they already know to exist?