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LEE BOYCE: My hunt for star customer service

LEE BOYCE: Lets praise the firms that really deliver… as well as calling out the customer service flops

This week sees the launch of our Wooden Spoon Awards for poor customer service.

One of the major problems flagged to us time and time again about most of the companies in this year’s shortlist is call wait times.

Spending up to an hour hanging on to speak to a human is infuriating. But not only that, there’s the tapping on the keypad to get through to the ‘right’ department and being directed to dreaded online ‘chatbots’.

Hard to talk: One of the major problems flagged to us time and time again about most of the companies in this year’s shortlist is call wait times

We think it is vital to be able to speak to someone promptly. That’s why Money Mail launched its Pick Up or Pay Up campaign this year, calling for new rules to ensure companies answer the phone within ten minutes.

Our annual Wooden Spoon Awards put the power in your hands to ensure that companies don’t get away with awful service. But we also love hearing about great customer service. 

Companies that have gone above and beyond to make you smile or sort problems quickly. Here’s my own example. 

Last week, Mrs B opened a new Jo Malone perfume bottle. It had been a birthday gift from me in April — she had only just run out of her previous bottle. However, she discovered the spray button didn’t work.

She went into the Jo Malone concession in the department store where it had been purchased, receipt-less. She was told it was unfixable but was given a phone number for customer services.

She called, a Jo Malone staff member picked up straightaway and without any bother the company agreed to send a new bottle after asking a few details. The new scent arrived two days later.

I see examples of good customer service on a weekly basis.

The staff at my local coffee shop who always ask how I am without fail and serve with a smile; my bank who picked up the phone this week within seconds and helped reset my banking app on a new phone; the London hotel receptionist 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 loyal.

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

I will continue to stick with my bank despite big cash rewards from rivals. I’ll go back to that hotel because of one staff member’s friendliness.

So, come on. Let’s spread a bit of cheer this Christmas — tell me which companies, big and local, have impressed you this year? I’ll 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 was launched, the thought of lugging your legacy direct debits and standing orders, notifying work for your pay, and losing your financial history felt like too many barriers to bother.

Not only did it seem complicated and time-consuming, but, above all, many were worried about being left in the lurch if the switch went wrong.

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

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

Namely, banks are spending even bigger sums to attract new customers. A £200 carrot to switch is a huge incentive — and payment within ten days just sweetens it further.

I was speaking to my 24-year-old niece at a family party recently. She moved account in mid-October and says it was easy.

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

Thousands of other first-time 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 would also have to wait for a year for the interest. So what are you waiting for?

l.boyce@dailymail.co.uk

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