Good customer service

In which good customer service is worth more than price.

Picture of houses

Applying for another mortgage, too stressful

I write this from my normal train, well not normal as this definition is slightly flexible with the train operator the free-market has decided can operate my journey home. It’s the train that gets me to, or closest to the station I need to get to. Whenever I take to Twitter to lament the latest delay or cancellation I am assured of an apology and a promise that things will get better.

That’s not customer service though, It’s just reiterating what I already know. Real customer service comes from doing all you can to stop your company from creating a bad situation. Then if you do mess up, owning up and doing something about it. It’s easy to do the former but much harder to do the latter. Just as it’s easy to complain it is much harder to talk about the times you got good service.

I’ve spent my life in industries that generate ill felling amongst their customers. I’ve worked for banks, insurance companies and utilities. The only time I may have worked in a “nice” industry was when I worked for Mars, but that was no Cadburys.

So to level it up I thought I would choose a moment a financial institution broke the mould and demonstrated that they actually cared. So stand up Coventry Building Society and take a bow. Well don’t bow quite yet. To give them the credit they need to take a punch first. This was not one of those happy beginnings and happy endings, to begin with they were the big bad.

It all began with a mortgage application, one which should have had no problem in being approved. When sitting with the advisor everything was going swimmingly until it came time for the decision. Despite being with the Building Society for many years they had decided not to lend me a bit more money and unfortunately that was that. No chance of appeal and no explanation as to why I had suddenly become a customer they didn’t want.

I was told it may be because I had recently moved jobs a few times, ignoring the fact that by doing so I had increased my income by 25%. So despite being more solvent I was a “risk”. I was a bit confused by being classed as such when the risk was that I would be able to pay my mortgage more, but the great thing about banking is that you can take your business elsewhere.

Going home I started to get angry. How dare they, my building society for the entirety of my life just cast me aside? We had chosen a house and now we risked losing it, and it was their fault. I did what any rational person would do.

I took to Twitter.

I was expecting them to bury their head in the sand and ignore me, but they didn’t. They responded and said sorry.

I was promised that they would look into it, but I’ve dealt with enough companies to know that a promise made is just a chance for them to upset you further when they don’t call you back. But they called me.

Not only did they call me, but they also had a plan of what they were going to do to rectify the situation. They couldn’t guarantee that they would be able to give me a mortgage but they would try and get an answer for me.

Then they kept calling me, every time a new piece of information came to light I found out. Not once did they make it feel like it was something I had done wrong and they were only helping me to rectify a situation I’d created.

In the end the explanation was that my application had been rejected because of a payment that they had missed. A system glitch had thrown a flag that scored me a risk. They were sorry, but they were going to give me the mortgage after all.

I was not offered compensation or a lower rate, just an apology. This was enough. Companies that throw money at you are not genuinely sorry they are just paying you off and hoping for your silence with an amount of money that has no effect on their bottom line.

So even though they caused me a load of stress they were man enough to accept it, to deal with it and to take responsibility. It makes me think that if I have a problem in the future it will be dealt with, and that they actually care about real people with real problems.

So now you can take a bow Coventry Building Society. They even remembered and wished me luck for my move.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Six of One, Half a Dozen of the Other.”

Write a six-word story about what you think the future holds for you, and then expand on it in a post.

Author: geekergosum

Ah, so you worked out the riddle. You just needed to use dwarfish and the doors to Geek Ergo Sum opened. Or perhaps you just used Google. Either way you are here, on my little corner of the Internet.

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