We introduced our 'Service Commitments' in 2009, a set of four principles that describe in a simple and straightforward way what service means to us and what our customers should expect during every contact with us. Our service commitments are:
• We will make customers feel welcome and treat them in a
helpful and friendly way
• We will always strive to understand their financial needs and offer products and services of benefit to them
• We will aim to handle their accounts smoothly and efficiently at all times
• If something does go wrong, we will aim to put it right as soon as possible, keeping customers informed and keeping our promises.
We surveyed over 200,000 branch and call centre customers last year and asked what they thought of our service; the results indicate that our investment in customer service is delivering improvements - almost 9 out of 10 customers are satisfied with our service, up from around 8 out of 10 in the previous year.
Improving our service
We remain committed to tackling service issues and a strategic priority is to improve the customer service experience. We recently completed a number of initiatives designed to further improve our service and satisfaction levels, and strengthen our approach to treating customers fairly.
We brought our two overseas retail call centres back to the UK, in response to customer feedback, and increased the number of staff available to help customers. We automated some of our key processes to simplify the experience for our customers when they request a tax certificate, cheque book, paying-in book or open a new account. Customers are now advised by text or email when their request has been received and when the action has been completed.
To improve the experience for customers in our branches we installed Chip & PIN devices and 300 new deposit ATMs, helping to reduce the time customers need to spend to complete their banking when they visit us.
Employees are encouraged to resolve issues and complaints using their own expertise and tools available to them. If they are unable to resolve the complaint they refer it to a central team who coach staff to deal with simple complaints over the phone or take from them the more complex ones. This approach has seen a significant improvement in the speed with which we address complaints, as well as the quality of the resolution and the number of complaints outstanding. The overall number of reportable complaints to the FSA received in 2011 was 19% lower than in 2010.
Our share of Financial Ombudsman Service customer complaints in
the second half of 2011 remained below our market share of retail
banking and we had a lower share of cases upheld against us than
the sector as a whole. Internal monthly customer surveys also
indicate an improvement in service levels; by the end of 2011
almost 90% of customers were satisfied or better.
We typically resolve around 80% of complaints within 48 hours and we have relatively few complaints outstanding over 4 weeks.