HSBC closes Margate Branch
The news that HSBC, will be closing its Margate branch in November, and moving to Westwood Cross seems inevitable to me. In a world of globalisation this news is almost reassuring, but then when we delve deeper, features of the new branch, such as new paying-in machines, terminals for Internet banking, free phones for telephone banking, tell me everything I need to know about HSBC's philosophy on customer care and the traditional larger banks.
For roughly, 30 years, I was a regular customer of My Bank (I have no wish to embarrass them), which was acquired after they made some serious mistakes in overseas investments (which put those self-righteous 'you're overdrawn' letters into some perspective) by Another Bank * and over the years I got used to occasional irritations from this Bank. When I opened my bank account, with the Old Bank * now acquired by Another Bank *, at the age of 17, banking was different it had a professional and authoritarian attitude towards its customers, but in the 30 years since the public have seen banks and building societies, become indistinguishable from each other, and we as customers expect friendly as well as professional.
Now you may ask, why I no longer regularly bank with this business, was it the new colour scheme in the branches, the Internet banking, the queues in the branch, well it was none of these things not even the dreaded call centre, in fact I was beginning to enjoy my impromptu role of teaching English as a foreign language but the final blow for me was going into my local branch and on asking for my pin number to be sent to me, was directed to a red telephone, in the corner of the branch, rather than the cashier making a note of my request, as they would have done in the past and sorting it out.
Even this indignity would not have been too bad but for the fact that on picking this phone up, being told how important my call was, but we are still going to keep you waiting, in a queue. I am surprised knowing how good their customer services are that the cashier didn't just point me to the far queue.
HSBC seem to have an aggressive strategy towards acquiring mortgage business, and until they adopt a more customer friendly approach, this is probably their best strategy since they only have to speak to the customers every few years (at least their location will be handy for new residents of Westwood Cross Estate).
Moving banks is for many a big wrench, and I did not switch my current account lightly, I actually tried to talk to someone in their organisation on many occasions at managerial level, this proved too difficult.
I would recommend anyone who is disenchanted with their bank, to try the Nationwide Building Society, apart from probably being cheaper to bank with they are more importantly genuinely friendly and helpful as well as having a branch in Margate.
Finally I could go on in general, with banking horror stories, at some length and not necessarily from any specific bank, such as the elderly who have incredible difficulty because they cannot progress through their banks telephone system, it seems that many of our larger banks have all the technology and no customer skills.
My bank probably saved pennies, by incorporating me as a customer into their mechanical customer service system and have lost pounds I never minded paying extra when they offered a personal service.