Here’s a tale for the modern age, which many of you will relate to.
A friend of mine went into his bank to transfer birthday money into his granddaughter’s bank account. His bank once employed six tellers to serve customers, before the counters were replaced by machines for paying in, paying out and shaking it all about.
There are also two small counters marked “Assisted Customer Service” – a wording so patronising it suggests only the infirm or the dim want to be served by a real person.
Only one counter was manned, so my friend patiently queued for 10 minutes before he explained to the bank employee what he wanted to do.
Her ‘helpful’ response? “You know you can do that online?”
When my friend politely explained if he did online banking he wouldn’t have journeyed into the branch, the employee said, “I can’t help you, but John will”, pointing to a young man wandering around with a clipboard.
When my friend explained to ‘John’ (not his real name) what he wanted to do, ‘John’s’ ‘helpful’ response was … “You know you can do that online?”
My friend again politely explained he didn’t do online banking so ‘John’ said that one of his colleagues would help my friend once his name was added to the list of customers waiting to be seen.
When my friend enquired about the length of the list, ‘John’ said, “You’ll be number 14!” and pointed at a crowd of people sat on sofas at the other end of the bank.
Having already spent 15 minutes getting nowhere, my friend declined the opportunity of hanging around for another hour or more in order to organise a two-minute transaction.
Though normally placid by nature, he firmly but politely told ‘John’ what he thought of the bank’s customer service and walked out.
Later, his wife, who does online banking, transferred the money. Here’s an idea. If all the ‘John’s’ of the banking world dumped their clipboards and got behind a counter, customer satisfaction might well improve, less branches might close and our High Streets might survive. Discuss!