ANZ or BNZ? A ‘No-Brainer’
for This Little Black Duck

Ever had to work just a bit too hard to give a bank your business?

This week I had to work a lot too hard.

Scenario A:

You pick up the phone to your own personal business banking manager, who responds within (at the outside) a few hours, usually by phone. At worst, by personalised, confidential email.

You speak, in your desired degree of detail, about any topic relevant to your finances and your banking, with this one person (or, in his absence, his equally informed, dedicated 2IC), who is fully informed on all his bank’s products and, additionally, has the appropriate level of decision-making ability to deal with any need you might reasonably expect to ever have of your bank.

Scenario B:

You have a significant piece of business to give a bank.

You call and explain the type of product you’re looking for and find yourself in a call centre environment. After a detailed briefing of the call centre staffer, you are transferred to another staffer, somewhere else in the bank, who either has had precious little of the previous conversation’s detail passed on or pretends that he hasn’t.

You are then passed to yet another staffer, who is even more insistent that you must take the entire conversation from the top. And is arrogant, to boot.

You give up. A day later, you receive a voicemail from someone else at the bank, referring generically to your (obviously recorded) enquiry as your desire to “open a new account”, and leaves a number for you to call back on. You call that number and it’s an operator for the bank’s “roadside rescue” call centre – who, quite clearly, has no particular incentive to help you with your enquiry for an offset and investment account.

Fed up, you lodge a complaint through the bank’s website. A day later, you receive a template email response, from a “Shelli”:

“Thank you for your feedback regarding your experience when calling our Customer Contact Centre today to open a new account.

“I am sorry to hear that you did not have a great customer experience when calling to open a new account, and we do appreciate you taking the time to let us know.

“Ms Kelly, your feedback has been passed to the Contact Centre Manager, so that they can address the issue to prevent it recurring for other customers.

“Thank you for contacting BNZ.”

“Shelli” appears to be bereft of a surname, but you give her / it / the situation the benefit of the doubt (i.e. that you’re not going to be attempting to correspond with an auto-responder series), and you email back with the question: Aren’t you even going to call me to ask me about my experience?

You receive no response. Chagrined but determined, you wait a couple of days and continue your efforts to do business with the bank.

Below is a recording of what happens next:

So . . . if you’ve listened to the recording, you’ll know who Bank A is, and you’ll also know who Bank B is.

The question, “Which bank would you choose?” hardly needs to be asked.

However, the question, “Does the CEO know?” (or care) is one that, for me, at least, remains.

I imagine that getting any form of correspondence through to his office will be something of a mission, but I’ll give it a go.

I’ll keep you posted.

PS:  In case you’re wondering why I’m even talking to Bank B, unfortunately Bank A doesn’t offer the particular product I’m looking for.


For Senior Management:

  • Investigate the legality of refusing to disclose the full information about a bank product, thereby forcing the intending / prospective customer to enter into an arduous application process (i.e. for the product) as a pre-requisite for full disclosure. Does the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act (CCCFA) not require that the bank make full disclosure of terms and conditions, along with all other relevant information on the product (including fees) if a prospective customer asks for this, before that customer lodges an application for that product?
  • Consider that not every customer is comfortable with the details of their every phone call with the bank being recorded, with no knowledge as to what or how many parties can access that recording, and for what duration into the future.
  • Consider that not every customer is comfortable with their bank account's information being accessible to all the staff at a very large national call centre, or the details of their enquiry being recorded.

Call Centre Management:

  • Consider developing SLAs that help ensure the seamless handling of a customer's enquiry.
  • Develop SLAs ensuring that when a customer is asked for a detailed explanation of his or her needs, all bank staff subsequently dealing with that customer are fully and accurately briefed before the customer is transferred through to them.
  • Allow staff to call customers back, without the staff member having to make special application to his or her supervisor, such application requiring the existence of "extenuating circumstances".
  • Have a reasonable SLA timeframe for addressing issues, and adhere to it.
  • Do not consider a customer's enquiry completed, or his or her complaint satisfactorily dealt with, until the customer advises this is so.

Complaints Department Management:

  • Take complaints more seriously than to offer the customer only a generic auto-responder in exchange for a painstakingly detailed account of their issue.
  • Further to the above point: At worst, if a generic auto-responder is considered the only viable means of dealing with customer complaints, at least take them sufficiently seriously that, if a customer emails back on the auto-responder address, this email is then responded to (by a human).

Call Centre Personnel:

  • (With reference to the below):  If a customer asks to be given an address or email address for correspondence to the bank's management, provide it. Do not insist on knowing the reason for the correspondence. Do not repeatedly refer to having to "identify the correct department". And if a return call is promised in order to provide the required postal address or email address, ensure a return call is made to that customer.

Does the CEO Know?

At this stage, probably not. I have made the following attempts:

  • I called the bank's customer call centre and asked how I could get a piece of correspondence through to the CEO's office. I was several times asked the nature of the correspondence, and was refused the information I requested. Apparently, call centre personnel are not in possession of this information. Reference was made to some vague intention to (subsequent to my call) "find the right department", despite the fact I'd been very clear about the department I required.
    After an unnecessarily lengthy phone call, I was told I would receive a return call. Upon asking for the timeframe within which I could expect this to come, I was told it might be a day or it might be a week.
    That was over two weeks ago at the time of writing this addendum to the main article. The return call hasn't come yet.
  • I've finally had a call back from someone with regard to my initial call i.e. requesting information about an offset account. He advised that the information I sought was on the bank's website somewhere, and that the original call centre staff member had been incorrect when he said the information couldn't be disclosed until a formal application was lodged for the product.
    He said he'd look into the experience I'd had, which he agreed wasn't great. He also agreed that the amount of time I'd had to spend (together with my accountant) to get this simple piece of information was quite inconceivable.
    I raised with him the issue that I'd endeavoured to get a postal or email address for the CEO's office, in order to keep my word and put my article before him. He undertook to get back to me. That hasn't happened yet. But it's only been three days. Perhaps the CEO's office is in some obscure corner of the BNZ landscape and it's going to take a while to locate it.
1 Comment
  • John Guthrie
    July 26, 2016

    This whole experience is a typical scenario of modern corporate language which comes across as personal, “flowery” even, but in reality desires to hold the customer & consumer at a distance. Nice words to make you feel good (plus music) when in reality it is a situation of we only want to use you for our benefit and it must suit us.

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