A Tale of Two Companies

RBS Fraud Prevention Department called me recently to check some transactions on my credit card. We went through the most recent purchases and I told them they had missed one out – for a hotel I had stayed in the previous night. “Oh, that one didn’t go through, it was referred.” I don’t think so, I replied, as far as I was aware it was all okay. No-one at reception told me any different, anyway what reason would there be for it being rejected? “Well we told the merchant five times to call us so that we could make sure it was you and they didn’t so I’m telling you it wasn’t authorised.”
The conversation went downhill from there and included phrases like “What do you want me to do,” “What do you expect me to do about it” and “No I can’t give you my surname”.
What. Even after I’ve told you my full name, account number, shoe size, mother’s maiden name and the name of every goldfish I have ever owned. What happens if there is more than one Mary in your global operation?
It finished with that well-worn phrase from me “Can I please speak to your manager?”
Compare that with my call to British Gas Homecare. I had a visit from an engineer to repair my tumbler dryer. It seemed to be working but now my washing machine wasn’t. He’s been a few times already, to assess the damage and to bring and fit a spare part. The girl I spoke to couldn’t have been more helpful. She upgraded the call to priority to expedite a new visit and then called the engineer who had visited to ask if he would call me to see if we could find an easy solution. He called – even although it was 9pm and agreed to visit first thing the next morning before he started his work for the day.
Two companies, two very different conversations. From the beginning of the call from my Bank I felt as if I was fighting them – even although they were supposed to be helping me by preventing my card being used fraudulently.
British Gas, on the other hand, couldn’t have been more helpful. Their objective was to make sure my washing machine worked, and the girl I spoke to did everything she could, and more, to ensure that happens.
I know which conversation left me more satisfied.
But why the difference? Does British Gas only employ friendly helpful staff while my bank employs only surly unhelpful people? Does my bank need to look at its training programme in customer service? Does British Gas care more about what its customers think than RBS?
Or is it simply that I spoke to one person when she was having a good day and the other on a bad day?
And if that’s the case, should it be? What standards should I expect from companies that are providing me with a service?

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