What has happened to customer service?
By Nicola Patrick
What's happened to our banks? Covid, has a part to play, limiting numbers inside buildings. But when did going to the bank become an exercise in patience?
Full disclosure, I grew up as the daughter of a bank manager, so have some personal connections. We even lived in a beautiful old bank building, upstairs, in Takaka, Golden Bay, before shifting in Whanganui in the early 80s.
I've recently had to wait in a line for services with another bank for a trust I'm on as I wasn't able to make an appointment and it's triggered my awareness of the queues out the street most days at most mainstream banks. What happened to their customer service?
Banks always used to pride themselves on their connection to their customers and their communities and it seems that has changed. Now you stand in a queue waiting for one poor lonely teller – staff cuts I guess.
That said, my bank, the Co-operative Bank, is still doing a great job. I was greeted by name when I popped in recently to help my son get his first debit card. I've had several phone calls from my branch manager to help me secure a loan for a little home renovation job coming up. I even had the bank call to check on a house insurance payment that got missed – and they did a manual payment to cover it at no extra charge.
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Maybe it's just the big banks that are sending their profits overseas? Cutting local services is one strategy to hit your profit targets.
I'm sure the people who work for banks don't enjoy seeing people waiting in queues – I know I don't enjoy feeling like a grumpy sour puss for pointing this out. It's clearly not their fault that staffing levels have changed.
My advice is to reconsider who you bank with. Yes, it seems an almighty hassle to change banks but I can recommend the Co-operative Bank – locally-owned and even delivers a return to shareholders. I got $51 back from my bank last year. Yes, my bank paid me!
But whatever you do with your own banking, don't take it out on the bank staff. I know they're just doing their best.
Nicola Patrick is a mum of two boys, a Horizons councillor, leads Thrive Whanganui, is a Green Party member and has a science degree.