One fine Sunday morning, instead of the usual ‘Good Morning’ messages, I woke up with a nice little SMS from my bank saying that my XXXXABCD card number has been blocked.
I couldn’t recall immediately which card this was, as the message said the card has been blocked due to ‘inactivity for more than a year’. I thought to myself, “no need to panic yet, let’s find out in a while”. So after my morning dose of emails and Sunday chores, I got to read the message carefully.
Customer experience void starts….
- First up, I couldn’t recognize for which purpose I had the card. Because it mentioned a cryptic ‘$PRODUCT_NAME$’. What could it be? It being so cryptic, I wasn’t sure whether this message was authentic. Made me think whether it’s a spam, phishing, or something else entirely. In any condition casting doubt on the bank’s security.
- If the card was not in use and you knew about it, why wasn’t I reminded in the first place? At least that’s my expectation as a customer. If you feel it is important to tell me that the card has been blocked, isn’t it more important to provide some notification ahead of time?
- As usual the card number was blocked with a series of X’s with only the last 4 digits showing. This is a good practice for ‘security reasons’ and I completely agree that security of customer data should be paramount. What I fail to understand is, in the current digital cashless, paperless world, people are relying more on plastic and digital payments. I would imagine that on an average people would have 4-5 cards with them (debit and credit cards, not to mention the foreign currency travel cards that are temporary and used for a few months). How many people would remember the last 4 digits of all those cards? Won’t it be a daunting task when the card has not been operational for ‘one year’?
- The message instructed me to contact a ‘nearby branch to unblock’ the card. It being a Sunday, of course, the nearest branches wouldn’t be operational. I would imagine the bank would have this information before sending the message. Imagine this was a card that I use frequently and critical to be active all the time. I would have no option to unblock, owing to the day and method of unblocking that was prescribed in the message.
Having the ‘go to branch’ option closed, I tried the usual telephony customer experience of ‘dial 1, dial 4, dial a, dial c…and wait time of umpteenth of minutes. By the 13th minute I got frustrated and ended the call.
At this point, I have still not figured out which card this is as I couldn’t find it in my wallet or the usual places. Normal human behavior – the brain determined this message wasn’t that important and the memory of this message faded away….….until….
…Until after about 72 hours late night, I received another message…
…riddled with its own customer experience issues.
- Which card had you blocked? Where is the card number? If I had deleted the earlier message (luck me in this case!), how would I know which card?
- I hadn’t taken any action to unblock the card. Since the first message said, blocked due to inactivity – I am now unsure if someone has used this card for it to be active again?
- If this was in fact an error from the bank, appreciate the candid ‘sorry’ in the message. However, there is no information about why this happened or any assurance that this would not happen in the future, putting doubts about having any further relationship with the bank.
What does this experience tell us?
- A small message from the bank affected the customer experience so much, what would happen for larger issues customers face on a daily basis?
- This message was from one of the largest banks in India having a turnover of more than 1 lakh crore. If this bank is so naïve and ignorant about customer experience, imagine the state of smaller players in this space.
My empathy for all bank customers….