This episode can be titled in several ways.
#The Story of how HSBC India Customers are treated like shit.
#Deteriorating Customer Service Standards of HSBC – A Review
#Story of how a proud customer lost his/her pride.
#Learn how to chase away loyal customers – by the World’s Local Bank
24 January 2011
I call up HSBC for their Cheque Pickup Facility for Credit Card payments. I call up the number available on their website for this particular service.
Note: The Due Date happens to be 1 February 2011. Ample advance time for them to collect the cheque, deposit it, and send it for clearing.
After getting through their super busy lines, I finally manage to speak to their executive. He asks for my name, last four digits of the credit card, address, landmark, telephone number. And confirms that someone will come the following day i.e. on 25 January 2011 and collect the cheque. I reconfirm if someone will definitely come on the said day. The executive answers in the positive. Absolutely. Hundred per cent, he says.
25 January 2011
I wait for the executive. No one turns up till late noon. I call them up again. After managing to get through their lines, the executive who answers the phone says there might be some technical issue and hence the cheque collection person wouldn’t have been able to come as yet.
Technical! I wonder.
He says that they send the request to the Bank and if the Bank hasn’t sent someone as yet to collect the cheque, there’s little he can do about it.
Send request to the Bank! Little he can do about it! Service Standards! I wonder.
He further takes down all the details ‘yet again’. And says that he is marking my request as ‘urgent’.
By when will your cheque collection person come, I ask.
Definitely tomorrow, he says.
But tomorrow is 26 January – Republic Day… are you guys working tomorrow, I ask.
Hmmm then he will come on 27 January. Definitely. Even, I guess on 26 January he can come. So says the executive.
26 January 2011
Frankly speaking, I didn’t expect the cheque collection executive to turn up. He didn’t turn up, but of course.
27 January 2011
10 a.m. – I try calling them. The automated voice says, ‘The next available executive will attend to you shortly’. I patiently listen to hold music. The music goes on for 18 minutes. Then the line goes blank.
And all I wanted to do was check if the cheque collection officer was turning up or not.
I call again at 11.10 a.m., 11.50 a.m., 12.45 p.m., 1.35 p.m. Each time I am enticed by the hold music for 17 minutes to 20 minutes and then the line gets disconnected.
I am still patient.
I finally manage to get an executive online at around 3 p.m.
This time he only asks for my name. No other details.
I tell him that I have been trying to get through their numbers since morning.
Technical problems, he says.
I ask him as to why the cheque collection executive hasn’t turned up as yet.
Technical problems, he says.
We have forwarded your request to the Bank and if the Bank hasn’t sent anyone as yet we can’t do anything about it.
Am I not talking to the Bank now? Hasn’t my call come to the Bank now?
You are talking to the Bank. Your call has come to the Bank. If he hasn’t come as yet, visit the Branch.
How long do I be patient, I wonder. Now it’s my turn to ask.
If you are unable to provide this service, one, you should have told me about this on 24 January instead of telling me on 27 January. Why commit something you can’t deliver! Why waste the customer’s time. Two, your Bank just has a handful of branches, which in turn causes serious inconvenience. You cannot perennially keep migrating customers from one service window to the other. Three, this is a paid service wherein the customer pays additional costs to avail of this service; it’s not as if the bank is offering this service for free. Can I have some constructive resolution please?
Shut-up, he retorts and disconnects the phone.
Is this what a service-centric organization tells its customers. A loyal customer for the past seven years. A customer who has never defaulted on payments. A customer who has been loyal even when the bank repeatedly, time and again messed up with the bonus points redemption.
S-H-U-T-U-P. Have you ever heard any service-oriented organization telling its customer like this. Have you ever heard any service-oriented organization hanging up on a customer.
There was a time when I could sing paens in praise of this bank. But now…
Appalled. Shocked. Horrified. Aghast. Disgusted. Dismayed.
I called again to complain. The next officer on the phone merely asked my name. No other details. He asked me the name of the person I had spoken to.
Now let me tell you that every time I call, either the executive refuses to part with his name. Or if he does utter his name, it is either Rahul, Amit, Raj or some utterly common name. Even if you insist, they n-e-v-e-r disclose their surname.
I, then ask the executive to check their call records and lodge a complaint against him. Two, status of the cheque collection executive.
We don’t have a mechanism for call records, he says. Let me check. Will let you know in half an hour.
Huh… Okay. But how will you let me know in half an hour. You haven’t yet taken down my phone number at least on this call.
Well… hmmm… hmmm… you give us a call in half an hour and check the status. We’ll try to check who spoke to you.
Note: All the while no apologies were offered.
Customer Services. S-E-R-V-I-C-E. A Word. A mere word lost in translation.