Barclays Bank: what are the customer experience folks up to?


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Barclays Bank: I sign up for business banking online

I had made the decision to move my business bank account so I did some research and decided on Barclays Bank. Why? Because:

  • They offered “online sign up” and I assumed (based on the copy on the website) that I could set-up / sign up to business bank account without having to go the branch;
  • My wife and I have personal bank accounts with Barclays and I assumed this would make sign up easier as Barclays already has our personal details and so can dispense with proof of identity, proof of address checks / hassle;
  • Barclays business banking is on par with other banks.

I got all the details ready then spent some 10 minutes completing the application form looking forward to getting my bank account set up there and then.

The reality does not match my expectations: I’m disappointed, unhappy and feel cheated

That is when my first disappointment came – at the end of the application process. Why? In the world of Barclays “online sign up” means that I provide a whole bunch of information about myself, my wife, our business, our personal bank accounts with Barclays and I am told that someone will contact me to arrange for me to complete the sign up process at a Barclays branch. Online sign up actually means offline sign up!

Let’s just stop and consider this. My wife and I have gone through all the verification checks when we set up the personal banking. Barclays sends us your bank statements to our home address. And I can take a picture of the company documents (share certificate, certificate of incorporation, articles) and upload them to the Barclays website. So why are we being asked to go the branch?

Pleasantly surprised at how quickly someone follows up the application and the helpful email

To my surprise, fours hours later, I had a voicemail (from a chap from Barclays to progress my application. He left his name but no phone number so I could not call him back. Yet, he told me he would call me back. The next day I received an email, telling me that someone had called, they missed me and asked me to call them. I did and pretty much straight away I was talking with a ‘helpful’ lady.

The second disappointment is bigger than the first one: why are Barclays wasting my time?

That is when I got my next surprise and disappointment. She started asking me for EXACTLY the same information that I had entered into Barclays website during the sign up process. EXACTLY the same – field by field! So I mentioned that I had already supplied this data. Her response was something like this: “Customer often get it wrong online and so I have to go through all the data field by field to make sure that it is accurate.” My internal response “What!” Twenty minutes later I finished supply the data that I had already supplied. And I asked a couple of extra questions on my company which could easily have been asked online but were not.

The third disappointment confirms that the banks are badly broken if viewed through the Customer Experience lens

At the end of the 20 minute calls (double the time I spent on the online sign up process) the Barclays lady tells me that both my wife and I have to go to the local branch and bring the following documents: proof of identity (passport, driving licence photo card), proof of address (utility bill), certificate of incorporation, memorandum & articles and share certificate.

I ask her why it is necessary for my wife and I provide proof of identity and a utility bill given that we are both Barclays customers and have gone through this process already: “You have been sending us bank statements to our address for over 10 years! You have our address in your systems.” What does the Barclays lady say without hesitation? “Oh, you are dealing with Barclays Business Banking and we are a separate busines!”

I wonder: what are the Customer Experience folks up to?

If I was rating the performance of Barclays Bank from a customer experience I’d say the positives are:

  • Online signup process was well signposted and easy to complete;
  • The follow up phone call took less than four hours and took me by suprise;
  • The systems (online, phone call, email) are clearly joined up because the email was clearly triggered when the Barclays chap phoned me and only got through to my voicemail;
  • The lady I spoke to was calm, well spoken, came across as friendly and helpful.

Yet, I am left with the thought that none of this matters. And I am unhappy with Barclays: they show up in my world as the Bank that has deceived me and wasted my time:

Why claim to offer online sign up when it is obvious that the sign up has to be completed in the branch? If the customer does not go to the branch then the bank account is never opened. So clearly it is not an online sign up!

Why waste 20 minutes of my time asking me for the same data that I had already supplied? If customer provide you with rubbish then simply get them to enter their name, email and phone number – then do the job of getting the data on the phone. That way it comes as a delight – a service that you are performing for the customer!

Why make your customers bring in paperwork that you already have? Why not ring the Personal Banking side of Barclays and verify that my wife and I are existing customers?

All of which makes me wonder what the Customer Experience folks at Barclays Bank are up to? If you have the answer then please let me know.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Maz Iqbal
Experienced management consultant and customer strategist who has been grappling with 'customer-centric business' since early 1999.


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