LEE BOYCE: My hunt for star customer service


LEE BOYCE: Let’s praise the companies that really deliver… and the customer service flounders







Launching this week is our Wooden Spoon Awards for poor customer service.

One of the major issues that have been reported to us over and over again with most of this year’s shortlisted companies is wait times.

Waiting an hour to talk to a human is infuriating. But not only that, there’s the tapping of the keyboard to proceed to the ‘correct’ department and be redirected to the dreaded online ‘chatbots’.

Hard to Talk: One of the biggest issues reported to us time and time again with most of this year's shortlisted companies is call wait times

Hard to talk: One of the biggest issues reported to us over and over again with most of this year’s shortlisted companies is wait times

We think it’s important to be able to speak to someone quickly. That’s why Money Mail launched the Pick Up or Pay Up campaign this year, calling for new rules to ensure businesses pick up the phone within ten minutes.

Our annual Wooden Spoon Awards put the power in your hands to ensure businesses don’t get away with terrible service. But we also like to hear about great customer service.

Companies that have gone out of their way to make you laugh or solve problems quickly. Here’s my own example.

Last week Mrs. B opened a new Jo Malone perfume bottle. It had been a birthday present from me in April – her previous bottle had just run out. However, she discovered that the spray button was not working.

She entered the Jo Malone concession at the department store where it was purchased, without a receipt. She was told it couldn’t be fixed but was given a customer service phone number.

She called, a Jo Malone employee answered right away, and without any hassle, the company agreed to send a new bottle after asking for a few details. The new fragrance arrived two days later.

I see examples of good customer service every week.

The staff at my local coffee shop who always ask how I am and serve with a smile; my bank who answered the phone in seconds this week and helped reset my banking app on a new phone; the hotel receptionist in London who upgraded our room last month simply because it was available ‘and it seemed a shame to waste it’. All of the above keeps me faithful.

I keep buying Mrs. B.’s favorite perfume. I routinely go to the same coffee shop, even if a flat white can be found cheaper elsewhere.

I stick to my bank despite big cash rewards from rivals. I will go back to that hotel because of the friendliness of an employee.

So come on. Let’s spread a little cheer this Christmas – tell me which companies, big and local, have impressed you this year? I will highlight the best ones in the coming weeks.

Switch boom

The Current Account Switching Service is one of those rare beasts: a personal finance idea to tackle inertia that has worked.

Before it launched, the thought of lugging around your old direct debits and standing orders, reporting work for your wages, and losing your financial history felt like too many hurdles.

Not only did it seem complicated and time-consuming, but above all many feared they would be abandoned if the switch went wrong.

It created a world where people would open an account – usually in young adulthood – and then stick with it.

Nearly a decade later, and the goalposts have shifted with that seven-day guarantee to promise that moving your account will be easy.

Banks spend even larger amounts to attract new customers. A £200 carrot to switch is a huge incentive – and payment within ten days just makes it more fun.

I recently spoke to my 24-year-old niece at a family celebration. She moved accounts in mid-October and says it was easy.

The reason she left her bank for Nationwide was for the £200. To her, it felt like a bribe big enough to entice her to move.

Thousands of other switchers felt the same way.

To put that £200 into context, with the best-buy easy-access rate of 2.85 per cent currently on offer, you’d need a lump sum of £7,000 – and you’d also have to wait a year for interest . So what are you waiting for?