No You Can’t. Yes You Can.

Dealing with the mortgage company

Over the weekend I spotted this cartoon doing the rounds on the web. If anyone can tell me where it originates from I would love to credit the artist. As I looked at it, the image spoke to me of my relationship with my mortgage company.

No You Can’t

The current tracker rate on our Natwest mortgage expires at the end of this month. I’ve been in conversation with the bank about the choices we have available for the next few years, and we’ve reached a decision. Last week I call Natwest to book a new deal over the phone. I’m told I can’t. I have to wait over a week for a callback because no one is available to process my request.

I don’t need any investment advice, and I know the deal I want, if they’d give me access to the computer – I’d book the thing in myself! And there’s a sting in the tail. If by the time the Natwest calls me back the deal has expired, we’ve missed out – tough luck. A few weeks ago I could have made the arrangement on the spot – since then, apparently there’s been a ‘policy change’. We to and fro for a while. I ask to speak with a supervisor, once again I hit the no one is available wall.

I try my luck on Twitter and the bank responds quickly and gives me another number to try, and I end up in the same situation. The Twitter version of Natwest expresses sympathy.

NatWest Twitter Expresses Sympathy

I appreciate the sentiment, and sympathy don’t pay the rent.

I have to settle for an appointment at the end of next week, and a call back from a supervisor within 24 hours – though I’m assured they’ll be able to do no more than that which has already been offered.

‘Natwest – Helpful Banking’ runs the strap line. Sorry but I ain’t feeling it.

Yes You Can

It’s Saturday morning, and the Natwest supervisor phones me and offers to process my new mortgage deal – right there – on the spot. I accept the offer and a half hour later, we’ve blundered through a vaguely incompetent call and have done the deal, two days after being told that this wouldn’t be possible before next Friday.

Pleased and Disappointed

The deal is done. I shan’t deny it – I’m pleased about that, although I genuinely worry when the customer knows more about the product being ordered than the sales person.

We’ve had to jump through hoops to make it happen, I’m not pleased about that, and I can’t imagine the Natwest is either. Time has been wasted, disempowered employees have been disengaged (well they would have been if they knew what it meant – more on that another day), systems have failed, and process has been broken in order to patch up a failed experience. Plenty of HR survey results and white papers will extoll the benefits of an empowered workforce. And I think until HR goes beyond HR, and helps people to join the dots right through the organisation and on to customers, suppliers and more, empowerment will remain high on the buzzword chart and low on action.

I have a great week in store and I hope you do too. If during this week you can find and solve a customer problem through making it easier for your people to deliver better service, then my hope will become your reality.

Customer Satisfaction and Engagement. Learn From the Locals

I’ve compiled the January 2010 UK Institute of Customer Service (ICS) figures into a table ranked by score (rounded to whole numbers) irrespective of sector. Local services make up four of this top ten. John Lewis/Waitrose take two more of the places, and Marks & Spencer/Marks & Spencer Food take two more. Toby Carvery and Virgin Holidays complete the top ten.

We can clearly see local businesses emerging with good results. I think this is because small local businesses worry less about things like vague customer satisfaction figures, and more about personal, connected service. Too often big brands risk losing that sense of connectedness as they strive to hit a spurious measure. Deliver service purposefully, and the scores will come. Very encouraging.

If you want to see where your company ranks, the full table can be downloaded here. By measuring scores irrespective of sector, some interesting results emerge. For example, despite all the industrial unrest and inconvenience caused by that, British Airways scrapes into the top 25.

It would be interesting to overlay employee engagement scores onto this table. I expect that the local businesses would disappear from sight. That’s not a criticism, it’s just that they don’t need to measure employee engagement, it’s literally staring them in the face. I’m not convinced that most big businesses need to measure it either; they just do it because everyone else does. And in so doing, most businesses risk chasing an improving employee engagement measure, instead of actually engaging. As you can see from the chart above, there appears to be a connection. If anyone has any further research on this that they’re willing to share feel free to post it here.

The July ICS figures are just out and it’s slightly disappointing to see they make fewer results available. I’ll carry out a similar comparison of these figures and publish them soon. Meantime if you have any stories of local v global, better or worse, feel free to share them with us.