Customer Service Goes Both Ways

We’ve all called a Call Center for some reason or another. They go from being very good to absolutely awful. I had a bit of both in a recent encounter with Bank of America. One of the online services I use is the ability to make ACH payments. These are payments that go directly to the recipient’s checking account – no matter what bank they bank with. There are 3 options the bank offers – same day (which is technically a wire transfer), next day and 3 day. Well, all of a sudden my next day option went away. I called in June and talked to a first level customer service person who wasn’t able to help me. So I asked to speak to a supervisor. We did all kind of trouble shooting – different browsers – all kinds of stuff. No next day option… So she put in technical ticket and told me it would be resolved in 3 – 5 days.

Then I forgot about it. At the end of July I needed to send an ACH payment. Logged in to my account and still no next day option. It’s been about 28 days since the technical ticket was filed, so I called online banking Customer Service.

I spoke to a young man, we’ll call him Bob. He was polite and tried to help me. He did some checking and had me hold while he spoke to a supervisor. When he came back on the line he explained that sometimes services are removed or suspended due to activity on the account. That got me thinking about the time I misjudged and set up an ACH payment on a Sunday, knowing that I would be making a deposit on Monday. I explained that to Bob and he said that there was nothing he could he do. I asked to speak to his supervisor. He said his supervisor couldn’t help me. I said I wanted to speak to him/her anyway. He wouldn’t put me through. That is when I started to get upset. I told him you connect me to a supervisor or tomorrow morning I’m call my branch manager and telling him that Bob gives terrible service and is incompetent. He promptly connected me to a supervisor…

The supervisor was Kimberly and she was Great! She explained to me that my next day ACH privilege had been suspended due to my error in timing back in June. I explained to her what had happened. I also mentioned that I worked with two banks and had the “bad” transaction I’d done been with my other bank it wouldn’t have been ‘bad’. She asked why, so I told her.

Any automatic debits / checks / etc that come through on the weekend don’t post until Monday night at the other bank. However, I learned the hard way that B of A posts them as they come in weekend or weekday. I told her I knew when I had set up that ACH payment back on that Sunday in June, that I would be making a deposit on Monday and that everything would be covered by Monday night – unfortunately there were some auto debits that hit on the weekend already posted, therefore I got ‘caught’. Won’t happen again :-)

But what was so wonderful is that while I was talking, she was working. She asked me to go to log in to my online account and see if the overnight option was there. It was! All fixed!!! I told her she was my hero and thanked her very much.

So – what are the lessons here? There are a few:
1. Never assume that one organization operates the same way as others in the same industry. This is where we as consumers have to take responsibility. Let me tell you about the time I went to my bank at 5:05 and it was closed. I got angry that they weren’t open until 6:00 like my other bank. Of course I’d only been banking with them 2 years, and walked through the door – with the hours painted right there for all to see – about once a week for those 2 years — .. So I really couldn’t get angry with the bank. I had to take responsibility for being late.
2. When dealing with call centers, know that you have the right to have your case elevated to the next level. Never leave a call frustrated. Always talk to someone else. Often times the first line people truly do not have the authority to solve your problem. But in my experience 99 times out of 100 the supervisor does.
3. Stay polite with the call center folk. They are doing their jobs under the guidelines set by the company’s management. Yes, they can be frustrating – but they are people too. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
4. Finally, and I don’t have any statistics to back it up but in my experience, when dealing with an off-shore call center, whether you are having a challenge getting your problem resolved, or just having a tough time communicating with the person due to language barriers – ask to speak to their supervisor. About 50% of the time you will get transferred to someone in the States. Language challenge resolved!

So, whichever end of the ‘problem’ you are on, stay positive, polite and on point to the issue at hand.

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