Monday, 21 June 2010

Very bad customer Service - NatWest Direct Business Banking

When I arrived in the UK in 2003 NatWest Swiss Cottage were the first bank to help me get set up with banking here. 7 years later and I needed business banking for the company I'd just incorporated. Naturally I turned to NatWest.

I called the business banking number, and instead of a branch I was put in touch with NatWest's Direct Business Banking. I was assured we could sort everything out over the phone, so off I went.

3 months later, and I now wish I'd never heard of NatWest Direct Business Banking. If you're looking for business banking, and considering NatWest Direct Business Banking, get yourself a coffee and read the following.

My view is that NatWest Direct Business Banking is not fit for its intended purpose. It starts with the encyclopaedic  application forms (plural), and complete absence of help to fill them out. Good luck with that. You'll need it.

If a single mistake is made, the trouble starts as you take on the Direct Business Banking 'Relationship' team and attempt to get things changed. They'll promise to call back, and won't. You'll send in forms, and they'll be lost.

So far, nothing I've tried to resolve has worked. Not a single thing. I can't change my address. I can't get Internet banking up and running. And at the heart of all the problems I've had, I've been unable to have the signing authority changed from joint to either/or.

I am stuck in an ongoing and apparently eternal cycle. For example...
  • I took 2 forms into the Kenton Branch of NatWest, having lost all faith in mailing forms to them. Yes, a branch - completely negating the purpose and supposed benefits of Direct Business Banking
  • I had both forms checked by an 'expert', and the branch then sent them to NatWest Direct Business Banking
  • One of the forms arrived, but was not actioned because (or so claim the NatWest Direct Business Banking 'Relationship' team) they couldn't tell if I had written a 6 or a B. Rather than tell me, they did absolutely nothing at all. This is not the first time they've encountered a problem and failed to advise me. As far as I can tell, this is what they always do. It's certainly what they've always done to me
  • I happened to call 2 weeks later to see what had happened. I discovered no change of address was made, and that the second form had not arrived.
I do not believe the second form didn't arrive. It was sent via Kenton Branch, and one of the 2 forms did arrive as admitted by NatWest. For it not to have arrived, the Kenton branch would have had to split the 2 forms and sent them separately.

I think they have lost the second form, which happens to be the most important of the 2. It is the form that will unlock the cause of the problem I am having with NatWest and it's completely hopeless Direct Business Banking unit.

I have absolutely no faith in either the honesty or competence of NatWest's Direct Business Banking 'Relationship' team.

It beggars belief that 3 months have gone by, and I have been unable to resolve 3 simple issues. In all cases, I have done exactly what NatWest asked me to do. In all cases, they have completely failed to...
  • Advise me when something hasn't been supplied in the correct manner
  • Do anything at all to actually help me
From a customer service perspective, here is where NatWest Direct Business Banking has failed...
  • There is no specific place or person who is authorised to handle problems of this nature, and make sure they are resolved quickly and to the customer's satisfaction. If there were, I am certain this would have been sorted out 5 weeks ago
  • There seems to be no bring up system that tracks expected documents, and if it doesn't arrive generates an outbound call to the client to see where it is. This would have immediately ensured the missing form was investigated last week rather than this
  • The members of the Direct Business Banking Relationship team seem to have no authority to do anything but make yet another request to submit yet another form to make up for the previous form(s) they lost
  • There is apparently no ability for the underlying system to flag an ongoing issue such as mine, and bring it to the attention of a higher authority
NatWest are a large organisation. Mistakes will happen, and there will be people who lack the authority to resolve them. In such situations, what matters is not that a mistake was made. What matters is that the customer feels his/her problem was dealt with competently.

I have received one written apology from NatWest. I am not interested in an apology.

An apology is completely and utterly worthless. It is a waste of paper. It costs a few pounds to send a letter.

The only thing I want is to have my business banking sorted out. I want either/or signing authority. I want my address corrected. And I want online banking to work.

That's all. But NatWest's only solution is to ask me to keep doing the same thing over and over again in the hope they will eventually stop losing the forms I sent them.



Jenny B said...

Ouch. It can be hard to get to a big company to listen, and I hope you get this sorted out soon.

Peter Smith said...

I'm surprised NatWest doesn't have some form of escalation that ensures ongoing issues like this are detected, and advanced to people with more power. Sounds like a case of the left-hand not knowing what the right-hand is doing.

Wayne Davies said...

Thanks Jenny, I hope so too.

Wayne Davies said...

Peter, I have no idea whether or not NatWest has such a unit. I did ask, and as a result have lodged yet another complaint.

It didn't fix the problem in May when I lodged a complaint, and I have no faith it will make any difference this time. But I live in rapidly diminishing hope.

Perhaps somebody at NatWest pays attention to the blogosphere and/or twittersphere? If so, and that person happens to read this, please for godssake pass this on to somebody who can make a difference and help me get my business banking sorted.

Anonymous said...

I've had similar problems with NatWest Direct Business banking. You need to get something done, and the ONLY procedure is to post in a form.

10. They lose the form, and the only solution is to a post in a form.

20. They lose the form, and the only solution is to post in a form.

30. Repeat from 10.

40. Change banks.

In the end, I switched banks. It was quicker than dealing with those numpties.

Anonymous said...

Never in my life have I had to deal with such incompetence and rudeness. Goodbye, Natwest. Hello, HSBC.

Wayne Davies said...

I see I'm not the only one to have run headlong into the black hole of incompetence that is the NatWest Direct Business Banking unit.

What makes it especially galling is that NatWest customers reported exactly these problems back in 1999. It is amazing to me that NatWest hasn't managed to sort things out in 11 full years.

Dealing with the NatWest Direct Business Banking unit reminds me of the Douglas Adam's game Bureaucrasy released back in 1987.

Keli Brown said...

I haven't had a problem with NatWest Direct Business Banking.

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NatWest Direct Business Banking., But if you are are saying that Very bad customer Service I'll see.

katty said...

The cost of poor customer retention is enormous. Although excellent customer service seems like a pretty basic tenet of running a business, it seems to be forgotten or over-looked by many business owners.
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