The ultimate bad experience

So far, this has been the ultimate bad experience.  My purse was stolen on Saturday.  I only have (well, had) one purse, and in it was everything credit-card sized.  This included 4 bank cards, driving licence and numerous loyalty cards.  There was also some money, but as I am notoriously badly organised when it comes to carrying cash around (fortuitously in this case) I only lost about £15.

As soon as I realised it had been swiped, I got hold of all the numbers I needed to ring to cancel my cards.  First call, Nationwide (the building society, not the insurance company).  It was all going well until the man on the other end of the phone asked me whether I wanted to receive marketing materials from them.  Are you kidding me?  You’re asking me whether I want to receive marketing materials from you when all I can really think about right now is the fact that I have no money, no access to money and someone has run off with quite a personal possession of mine.  He then went on to say ‘Have a nice day’.  Have a nice day?!  Really?  Are you a monkey or a human?  I might expect something like this from a website, but from an actual living and breathing human?  No, I expect a little empathy.

Next call was to the Royal Bank of Scotland.  They were highly efficient, putting me through to their credit card cancellation department in the same call.  I was feeling a bit less worse now.  The lady I spoke to about cancelling my credit card was a real live human.  She did empathise with me.  Which made me feel a little better.  And she immediately checked my account to reassure me that no transactions had been carried out.  Yay, you’ve made some effort to understand your customers.

And then the pendulum swung the other way again.  This time I was trying to get hold of someone at MBNA (after mistakenly calling American Express, as that is what I recall seeing on my credit card, not MBNA).  They have a voice recognition phone system.  Problem number 1 – I’m in a public space, there is a lot of background noise, and I don’t particularly want to shout my personal details to an automatic voice at the other end of the phone.  Problem 2 – after telling the automated voice that I’ve had my card stolen, it asks me to read out the long number on the front of the card.  Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t know the long number along the front of my card.  And then, because I couldn’t read out the number they asked me to enter it using my keypad.  Just let me speak to someone already please.

Why is it so difficult to think about your customer when designing a service?  Who’s using the service?  Yes, that’s right, it’s your customers.  Who pays your wages?  Yes, that’s right, it’s your customers.  Now, please think about how they would like to be treated and start your service design from there.

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