Thursday, July 16, 2015

UK: Must not give machines names!

Once upon a time, you might have been on first-name terms with the staff at your local bank.

Now, it seems, Barclays wants you to be just as friendly with their automated counterparts.

In a move that furious MPs have branded ‘insulting’ to customers, the bank has given human names to its self-service machines.

Customers are being told to go to see ‘Sally’, ‘Mike’ or ‘Jake’ if they want to pay in a cheque, withdraw money or amend a direct debit.

The machines – dubbed ‘Assisted Service Counters’ – have name plaques, with a list of transactions they can help with underneath.

Those queuing up to speak to an adviser will be told to use a machine if they are performing a ‘routine’ transaction, such as paying in a cheque. Typically only customers with more complex enquiries – such as taking out a mortgage – will be directed to a member of staff.

Barclays said it is testing out this tactic at five of its 1,488 branches – although it refused to disclose where they are. It said the aim is to make it easier for customers to distinguish between the different types of machines. If the trial is successful, machines at branches across the country could be given names.

But the move appears to have backfired, with campaigners last night accusing the scandal-hit lender of ‘taking its customers for mugs’. The Mail has launched a campaign – Bring Back Real Customer Service – to highlight the frustration customers feel in banks, supermarkets and train stations when forced to deal with self-service machines rather than a real person.

Derek French, of the Campaign for Community Banking Services, said: ‘There will be some customers who will appreciate the joke. But this is an insult to those who have queued up at their local branch wanting to speak to a human.



Anonymous said...

Forty years ago, I lived in a small town in Vermont and was personally acquainted with the manager of the bank where we had our checking account.
One day, I was in Maine and wanted to buy a used Ford Bronco. I called the bank and asked my friend to cover my check until I got back to Vermont. I suspect that in most places that would not be possible to do today.

Anonymous said...

Online and machine banking are extremely cost effective for the bank and if the bank can operate for less they can provide a correspondingly larger selection of services or charge less which make them more competitive. Having an expensive smiling human deposit checks or hand out cash is a waste of a resource since those can both be done very efficiently by a machine. The smiling human type customer service is highly overrated.


Bird of Paradise said...

Liberals with their teenie tiny brains a carborator more intellegent then they are

Olaf Koenders said...

Deposits to a machine still have to be cleared by a human, so that's not saving much. However, as a result of the ATM, fewer tellers are employed. I see in most banks these days a long queue and only 3 of the 10 or more teller desks occupied.