Outsourcing and Call Center Blog

9 September, 2007

Standard Chartered Revisited

Filed under: Customer Service,India,Marketing,personal,Standard Chartered — shamrin @ 10:41

In August I wrote an entry called “The whole world is watching” in which I suggested that the way we do business and the way we treat employees is more important than ever. I went on to say then:

Web 2.0 has not gripped India the way it has America and other parts of the west, we don’t have 1 billion bloggers yet, but we’ll get there. And when we do, there are sure to be benefits for organisations that conduct themselves in the most ethical, transparent ways.

Well, maybe I wasn’t giving India enough credit. Last week I took Standard Chartered Bank to task on this blog for a shameful level of customer service from their call center and an incident that occurred in their local branch. On Friday I received two phone calls, one from the branch and one from the call center apologising for the problem and assuring me that this is not the level of service they expect customers to receive. They said that they had seen the blog and were prompted to call and make amends. There had apparently been quite a fuss in the branch over all this too as the one of the staff came out to apologise in person when he saw me at the ATM on Saturday.

I was a little taken aback by all this because I’m not used to a bank really giving a damn when I complain, ask anyone that banks in the UK and they will tell you the same thing. So full credit to Standard Chartered for their mea culpa, I think they did pretty much everything they could after the fact to fix things up. Now the proof is in how they do things better, I hope they do.

But I was just as taken aback by the fact that someone at Standard Chartered found my comments here and triggered a response within the organisation that led to me being called. That’s no small feat and it makes me wonder if they actually have a program to monitor their online reputation. Whether they do or whether finding my comments was just some amazing coincidence (like my wife running into a high school classmate here in Delhi this weekend) it demonstrates that large organisations do care about their online reputation. We would all do well to follow this practice in the future.


  1. […] See Standard Chartered Revisited entry for more on […]

    Pingback by Owning the problem « Outsourcing and Call Center Blog — 9 September, 2007 @ 10:44 | Reply

  2. Hi Steve:

    The whole world may be watching indeed. Greetings from my home on a beautiful island off Canada’s Atlantic Ocean coast.

    Your comment “I was a little taken aback by all this because I’m not used to a bank really giving a damn when I complain” has hit a nerve with me. Then again, perhaps I’m being too cynical.

    I suspect you received your apology because you have the ability to cause others to form an opinion and because your blog comments have been ” mined ” by the bank or its agent hired to monitor what is being said about it. Enjoy the perk of your status Steve. Bloggers one, bankers nil!

    I doubt very much whether the “everyday” customers who were offset by poor customer service that day received any kind of an apology let alone recognition that they received poor customer service. Unless of course they blogged it and it had the ability to effect corporate decision makers such as you do.

    Good post.


    Comment by Mike — 10 September, 2007 @ 17:28 | Reply

  3. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Are you anywhere near Gander? Every time I make the Atlantic crossing over there I imagine myself exploring that part of the world. Someday soon I hope.

    Your thinking here does seem a tad cynical but not unduly so. You have to give credit where credit is due though. This particular bank appears to care enough about what people are saying about it to mine the blogs. I think that’s both smart and modern. They also have a system in place that caused 2 phone calls to be made as a result of a negative remark, that’s better than some organisations could manage I think. I might be wrong, but I imagine my bank back in the UK couldn’t care less about what I or anyone else says about them in a blog.

    You’re absolutely right, the guy in front of me and behind me in the queue that day might have gone away just as frustrated with no resolution. But I can tell you, based on my discussion with the member of staff that sought me out at the ATM, employees in that branch will think twice about treating a customer casually in the future.

    I’m not sure what the lesson is here, but I think one of them is that online reputation does matter and businesses are wise to manage theirs. This was a case on the customer side, but just think of how much impact (positive or negative) an employee’s comments might have.

    Comment by shamrin — 10 September, 2007 @ 19:21 | Reply

  4. Hi Steve, I think this shows one thing: Whether or not they are focused on customer service, marketing and PR is surely their forte!

    What of the customers who do not blog? Will StanChart improve their ways for them? Somehow I doubt that very much.

    I also think you may be being optimistic about how they might treat other customers in future. As I say rather awfully, the trouble with an economic boom is that even morons have jobs, and I do not expect morons to remember any lessons very long… 🙂

    As for whether someone cares in the UK or not, hmm, I think I shall have to run an experiment and see. But recently a FaceBook group managed to get HSBC to back down on their interest rate hikes on graduate overdrafts. So the Web 2.0 thing may be working in some measure. I bet though an individual will find the relationship severed very quickly and unilaterally.


    Comment by Shefaly — 11 September, 2007 @ 23:48 | Reply

  5. Hi Steve:

    In answer to your question about my proximity to Gander.

    Yes, I live not very far away from there on the Newfoundland Island portion of the eastern Canadian Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Far East of the Western World.

    I hope you do get a chance to visit this beautiful land some day. Dress for all seasons!! The landscape is beautiful and the weather is changeable and can be challenging at times. Come experience the Icebergs and the Whales that cling to our coastline each year. Come visit the 1000 year old viking settlements. The natural beauty of our coves and bays and explore our mountains or play on our golf courses. It’s all here for you. No shortage of seasons here.

    With reference to your blog, I tend to agree with Shefaly on this post.

    My remarks are perhaps more relevant to incoming call centre activity than outbound.

    Why is it that too many businesses will quickly mount the public relation “guns of self defense” when their poor customer service is challenged publically such as on a blog? Yet, in many cases react poorly when customer complaints are raised one on one?

    Why is it so necessary to ” drag ” them into the media to get their attention?

    As a CAE I have frequently experienced circumstances where customers have initially been denied goodwill at an agent or supervisory level but the moment they raised the spectre of escallation to a government agency or the media, a resolution to the problem was found.

    Other CAE’s for other BPO’s have related similar experiences and so this is not applicable to only Companies for which I deliver support services.

    Is it the squeaky wheel which gets the most grease in the call centre business? Are we focused too much on developing expertise in ” delivering the no ” over the phone or the web for inbound call customers? Sometimes I think so.

    I am not advocating ” giving it all away “. Not at all. Especially to those who feel that a mere complaint or holding an agent online for a long time will get them something and so have developed the habit of complaining to get rewarded with undeserved goodwill.

    I am calling on businesses to place more of an emphasis on being willing to stand behind their products or services when customers provide feedback. Less emphasis on putting up the defensive wall through robotically delivered “ACE” statements and more emphasis on accepting responcibility for the performance of your products and or services.

    Are we as outsourcing service providers giving our clients adequate feedback to enable them to address customer concerns or are we telling them what we think they want to hear? Perhaps we may be trying to make them feel good when we should be passing along ” real ” feedback. This would require brave behaviour as it could endanger our ability to retain the contract.

    Better that than losing it because the client ultimately fails with the consumer.

    Best wishes,


    Comment by Mike — 13 September, 2007 @ 17:36 | Reply

  6. Thanks for your thoughts Shefaly. The ideal situation is that banks (or any company) give such good customer service there is no reason to complain. The second best thing is that they have a system in place to improve themselves when someone does. There’s just no way to know in most cases how “sincere” an apology is, but this one was pretty good by my standards.

    Your comments about economic boom are well taken. I remember when I was selling to Digital Equipment Corp. in Boston during their boom years, one of their senior managers complained to me, “Forty-percent annual growth will hide a lot of problems.” In fact it did and today they aren’t, there is much of this happening in India and in my very industry (BPO).

    Your final thought is really more about the power of Web 2.0 than my original entry was. The power is in when more and more of us share our experiences, not just one.

    Comment by shamrin — 13 September, 2007 @ 17:55 | Reply

  7. I’d agree with the posters who say SC was in damage-control mode rather than anything else.

    I am in the middle of a problem where I asked SC Singapore to close a fixed deposit & put the funds into my normal account. They said it would take 7 days. It took 14 days for them to take any action, and when they finally did, the fun started. They instead created a cashier’s cheque & posted it to me overseas. So, it will take 2 weeks to get to me and another 6 weeks to clear (as it is in S$ and I am in Malaysia).

    I am now in the middle of them canceling the cheque & refunding to my account, but even this is taking a week with no end in sight. My money is still missing & undoubtedly earning SC interest. They say they don’t have my form & want me to resubmit, but they MUST have my form otherwise they would have not closed the FD (which doesn’t mature until next year). So, they lie to me. In fact they lie constantly, promising to call me with info, but at the end of each day (for 3 weeks now) I am still waiting by the phone & have to ring them myself next day to start the battle again.

    Customer service is adept at issuing sincere apologies, but the entire system is designed to keep customers away from staff who can actually make decisions. Customer service staff are not allowed to make internal phone calls – they can only send emails & if nobody replies they send another email marked urgent. That is all they can do – email & wait. Meanwhile the customer gets more frustrated. I have escalated to senior management but even speaking to a Siti Zabedah (Business Manager, Customer Care Unit, Regional Hub Contact Center) has only resulted in 3 more days of apologies and NO action. Her manager is on sick leave & her manager’s manager does not have an extension that is known to Siti!

    The process is broken. Even if they did happen to have good staff (and I haven’t found any yet), they are unable to do anything to solve any problem that is out of the ordinary. I have told them I will be seeking compensation for interest lost, long distance phone calls & interest charged on a bill I couldn’t pay due to lack of funds. They admitted their mistake & countered with a supermarket voucher! If I lived in Singapore I would sue them in small claims court.

    Comment by Eina — 7 October, 2009 @ 7:36 | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: