Following my previous examples of customer hindrance (the opposite of customer service) at play, here are a couple more from the last few days.

Alliance & Leicester Bank

I queued for over 20 minutes to pay some cheques into my account. As ever, only one cashier was working with customers, even though I counted at least six staff in the branch.

After queuing (relatively) patiently, it was my turn. “Oh dear,” said the cashier, “We can’t pay in more than 5 cheques at the counter. You should do this at the machine.”

Before I had time to answer, one of the previously invisible members of staff appeared and repeated this advice. “You can’t pay in more than five cheques at the desk you know. You should use the machine.”

Just as I was about to explode, she took the cheques off me and said, “Oh, give them here. I’ll do them at this machine.

What is it about banks and customer hindrance? Why do the people who are supposedly providing service do everything in their power to make it as difficult as possible for you? And what does their attitude and behaviour say about the quality of their management?

East Coast Trains

East Coast trains run many of the train services connecting London with Edinburgh, Newcastle and Leeds. I join the service at Newark, and over the past year they have added automatic barriers for passengers to gain access to and egress from the platforms.

There is only one problem: as often as not, the barriers don’t work. As a result, there are usually a couple of members of staff on hand to either help passengers put their tickets into the machine properly, or simply swipe people through.

This means that the company has added operational cost, with the new equipment, but has not been able to reduced its people costs. In short, it has been an expensive way of making the queues of people trying to get on and off the platform longer.

If East Coast management’s goal is customer hindrance, I’m sure that I could help them achieve its objective in a far more cost-effective way!

© Stuart Cross 2010. All rights reserved.