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The Barriers of Business

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10 June 2009

The Barriers of Business

As much as I love what I’m doing now – more than anything I have done previously, there are of course hurdles still. Over the past few years I have been quite vocal about the lack of support given to business, through onerous legislation, poor service and bankers (!!)


Anyway, I do need a bank account. Next question is which bank?! The events during my time at Savekers Ltd have slightly scared me and in particular the lack of customer focus or understanding of what businesses need. I believe that associates and advisors to businesses should become part of your team and yet banks have a whole different agenda to that of supporting the business or being part of a team. Businesses are the 'customer' but banks don't give them that respect. Customer service in the UK is a whole new subject and one I shall save for later.


So I thought I would look at one of the smaller banks such as the Cooperative or Allied Irish. I do remember the time that you could go into the Midland Bank or Trustee Savings Bank and talk to lovely people and there was a bank manager. That would have been perfect for someone in my position – or anyone for that matter! But that’s not an option.


So, the CO-OP seems great but you can’t sit down and discuss your needs with someone, you do it over the phone or fill in a website questionnaire. However I think they seem to be about the best. I did ask if their customer service team was based in the UK so I could understand them and they could understand me!


Allied Irish are great – if you live in Ireland where they give small businesses free banking. In the UK it’s different and I was even told by a lovely lady that the relationship managers are all in London and she wouldn’t recommend using them.


The main high street banks are a waste of time at the moment and even though Savekers used HSBC I would stand by the fact that they are possibly the best of a bad lot! This of course isn’t all their fault, our relationship manager there was a lovely chap  but simply had no power or authority.


Next… insurance. Professional Indemnity cover isn’t as straight forward as you’d think and yet again when talking to the customer service people at these organisations, unless you tick straight forward boxes they are completely useless. Unskilled and inexperienced people are not helpful, even if they are pleasant in their approach.


It seems to me that more and more companies have taken the approach of removing the ‘service’ element from their offering which ultimately is what sets companies apart from each other. Indian call centres cum it up.


You know the scenario… dial one for customer services, press two for sales, press three for us to be useless to you, dial four to get even more frustrated as there will be another set of options, dial five to get sent back in a loop to the start of this message and dial six to waste some more of your time and money – by which point you have forgotten why you called in the first place!!!! The other great barrier they present to you is the web… this time you can spend 20 minutes filling in a form to get to the end and it tell you that you’re application/query etc needs to be discussed with someone and so it tells you to dial one for customer services….


Why can’t you call a number (preferably a free call number) and speak to someone that will help you with your query? Even more impressive would be being able to meet a presentable and knowledgeable person face to face. Simple! It’s called good old fashioned customer service.