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Good Customer Service? Don’t Bank on it!

Okay this week’s blog post is more like a rant than anything else. I am struggling to see how companies can still get away with such bad customer service.

On Monday, I went to the bank to deposit a personal cheque. I arrived at a silly time. I’ll grant you that – 12.45pm. The queue resembled the queue you might expect from the Passport Office the day after their strike….Yes it was long and disorderly.  The general banking area has 6 customer service desks….only 2 of them were open.  That said the business banking desk was open with a gentleman twiddling his thumbs and yawning and the Bureau de Change desk had three members of staff chatting away as the tumble weed rolled by their section.

The two Bank Cashiers that were working were doing so, so slowly and seemed to have little experience. They constantly got up from their chair to send out another S.O.S to a manager for help. One even found time to leave her area and make a cup of tea during my wait. Both cashiers were chewing gum, call me an old stick in the mud, but that is hardly a good look. However, it was the scowl and lack of eye contact that really capped the experience. No -“Sorry for the wait”, No- “Hello”, No- “Thank You and have a good day”. In fact when I did reach the counter, the two cashiers continued on their conversation about how hungover they were and how much they hated their job.  I found this particularly irritating as there are over 400,000 unemployed in Ireland, many whom would cherish such a job.

I finally turned into the Incredible Hulk mode when I went up to the “Customer Service” desk to complain and was told to get in the queue. By the time I left,  as the picture suggests I was as angry as the Incredible Hulk. Maybe the Incredible Sulk would be more apt.

The bank has made an effort since to apologise for my experience, however no reaction will take that sour taste away!  After all a job seeker that shows up late and inappropriately dressed for an interview is unlikely to get a second chance.

When I got back to my office, I started to think about my customers... I think I am a good communicator and I provide a high level of customer service to each and every client. That said I had not picked up the phone and talked to all my previous customers lately.  I got dialing and spent a large part of Monday afternoon and Tuesday talking to my old customers. Finding out how they were getting on in their new careers, getting their feedback on my newsletter, blogs etc.  It is only Wednesday and I have got some super advice, wonderful testimonials, great positive stories on how Careers Coach made a difference to their life and to cap off this wonderful experience two new clients referred to me!

Take a moment out today to review your customer service and see if you can improve on the level service you give your clients. Let me know how you get on.

Greg is a Social Media trainer and workshop facilitator with the Digital Marketing Institute. He has also delivered lectures and short courses for leading organisations including SureSkills, and The Michael Smurfit Business School. Greg also works with the Ahain Group as a Social Business Consultant. He believes that in order to make social media work for your business you must have a clear business goal, a clearly defined strategy and make sure that everything you do is measureable. Specialities include: Social Media Training | Personal Branding |Social Business Consultancy | Social Strategy Workshops | Interview Techniques | Psychometric Profiling | LinkedIn Training | Facebook Training | Twitter Training | Blogging | Online Video and You Tube Training | Emerging Social Media (Pinterest, Foursquare, Instagram, Google+ etc.) More information at: and

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  • There’s way too many people that have set the bar low Greg. They have quit long time ago but unfortunately stayed.
    Every person that’s enlightened enough to understand what is and how to deliver emotional work, will be able to read and understand these poor customer service situations and transforms them into their competitive advantage. Well done mate!

  • Anonymous

    So true Greg, and it’s always the little things, the basics that people forget. It is infuriating to get bad service and a real talking point. Good service is expected, great service is like karma it’ll bring people back!

  • Great review Greg. The banks are the worst offenders and I would be so bold as to suggest that the bank was AIB. When I feel like a rant I let off steam on my site Surprisingly 86% of all reviews are positive, but we always love the occassional rant!

  • I feel your pain on this one Greg, I really do. I think one reason for this is that customer service roles are not treated by organisations with the important that they deserve.

  • Anonymous

    One thing I believed from being self employed for over 20 years now is that “You are only as good as your last job”.. or if an employee, your last contact with the customer. You can’t have a bad day with customers. You can’t take them for granted. You have to surprise them with good service. If you make your customers happy, you will feel a lot happier too!!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your comments. I toyed with the idea of naming and shaming the bank in question, but decided the article should highlight the real problem of poor customer service in general rather than point the finger at one particular institution.

    I did LOL at your guess though;)

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for sharing my pain. Despite the bad experience, I genuinely think the very experience assisted me in generating two extra clients this week. So that can’t be bad.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your comment. Simple formula for good customer service – “Say what you mean, mean what you say and do what you promise to do.”

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the comment, encouragement and of course your words of wisdom.

  • Anonymous

    Lovely comment Ann. You are spot on with your comment – “You are only as good as your last job”. And yes you are right that one is much happier within one’s self if we make others happy. I love this saying – “It takes seventeen muscles to smile and forty-three to frown.”

  • Anonymous

    I like it! I’ll be using that!!

  • Sheila Wells

    Hi Greg, I took have been experiencing more and more bad customer care service. Only last week we had problems with our bank (and not the first time either). As you say people should count themselves lucky to have a job – there are plenty more people out there that would only be too grateful for a job – and do it very well.
    When I worked in the UK I strived to ensure that the best possible customer care was given to our customers at all times, and if we couldnt deliver it for whatever reason we always held our hand up and apologised to the customer. Good manners does not cost anything. Bad manners can cost you your business.

  • Congrats on the new Venture 🙂

  • I really feel your pain on this one, as I had to deposit money into a bank account that isn’t mine in a bank and branch I don’t normally go near and had a similar experience. I really believe that these institutions themselves believe that they can get away with it because they know we need the service we provide and really don’t care about us the customer – they are protected by the bail outs the government has provided them. Nice that it reminded you to re-contact your old clients though – there is always an upside to every bad experience.

  • Unfortunately, this is all too common. Here’s my take on this, from the point of view of a bride:

    I once threw such a phenomenal wobbly in a bank, that I had to be removed to a side room to continue. I cancelled my account and withdrew everything that day.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Niall

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your comment. Nicely put – Good manners cost nothing and Bad manners can cost you your business!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your comment and sharing your blog post on the subject. Really appreciated.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your comment and thanks for highlighting my very important point that there is always an upside to every bad experience.

  • Hi there Greg,

    I’m going to be careful commenting, as I don’t wish to offend anyone and I will say straight off that this is just an observation and not a general consensus.

    Just before I moved here, I spent a week enquiring after rentals. The customer service was appalling. Hardly any staff, no helpful advice, not even a promise to call in a few days. We were told to call in again in a week (to do all the hard work!) at practically all agents. It bugged me from then on, because customer service on the whole in the UK is good. You get an apology (I’ve had two so far since moving). They actively call you and chase. I was surprised at the lack of regard for business. They were happy to leave it.
    The social welfare office is a disgrace – I had to drive 15mins, park and walk 30mins to get there, the least they can do is work at a normal rate. Instead they talk to friends, pass you from hatch to hatch and tell you different versions of what you should do, then make you chase for feedback.

    Maybe the problem is that the same drivers are not in place – in the UK there’s so much competition that you are constantly worrying your customers will go elsewhere. If your competition is few and you know they won’t be bothered to shop around, you can give a mediocre customer service.

    What I will say is that there ARE those who are willing to go above and beyond, and evenually it will push the others to up their standards. Thats only a good thing!


  • Anonymous

    Now you have offended me…..only joking! I enjoyed your comment as much as I enjoyed letting off steam and writing my post. I think people lost all respect for good customer service during the boom years!

  • Anonymous


    I was wondering if you could do me a favour next week and lodge a few cheques for me? 🙂

    Queues and people with little patience like me – a match made in heaven.


  • Anonymous

    I’ll cheque my diary, but don’t bank on it!

    Have a great long weekend Paul.

  • Customer service, good or bad, can have such a big impact on someone’s day. The last time I was in my bank I had to queue for ages and when it was finally my turn to discuss an erroneous charge on my account, I felt like I was jumping through hoops just to get the £25 returned to my account. Leaving the bank I did feel like you explained, an incredible sulk that sits with you for a while.

    On the flip side, when you experience customer service where people go out of their way to really help you, seem to really care about you and your problem, and make the help you receive feel very personal, it leaves you feeling good.

    Warmest regards,


  • Your article raises a great point, frequent customer follow-up combined with exceptional customer service can lead to one of the cheapest, most effective lead generation tools around, word-of-mouth referrals.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your comment Jason. Referrals are the way to go in business. And good customer service generate more referrals from those referrals.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the comment Karl. Much appreciated.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for talking the time to comment Maranda, really appreciated:)

  • Declansheehy

    That was my experience almost the entire time I was in Ireland. I moved back for 2 years and when ever I went to the bank, post office, restaurant, coffee shop I experienced the worst service from people who could not care less. People in Ireland put up with over charging and awful service. It is not everywhere but it is all too common. I am glad to be no longer there

  • Aileen O’Toole @AMASinternet

    Hi NiallnnWell done on capturing the impact of the #IRLday campaign. While I chipped in a few tweets on the day, I didn’t get a good sense of how it all came together and what it achieved until I read the case study. u00a0nnI do quite a bit u00a0of work in the Irish tourism sector and u00a0earlier in the year was part of a group that put together a plan for rejuvenating the Irish industry .u00a0u00a0It was called Tourusm Opportunity ( and was led by the main tourism industry body ITIC. u00a0The report was well u00a0received by government and already some of the recommendations are being implemented. u00a0u00a0nnI’m going to suggest that the case study is shared within the industry as much to get the news out about the campaign but also to show the power of online marketing and social media ( that theme was covered in the report but here’s an example if how it worked in practice)nnI assume you’ve no problem with the case study being shared ( silly question really but I’m programmed to ask it). u00a0Not sure where and how u00a0but leave that with me that with me and I’ll keep you postednnAileenu00a0nnAMAS

  • Well done, Niall. u00a0A great achievement on both counts. u00a0These are great initiatives to build on in order to promote Ireland through social media. u00a0Keep up the good work!

  • Thank you Fiona 🙂

  • Matt

    I think it is unrealistic to expect SOHO companies to use agencies for their SEO, the budget is rarely there. These kind of posts are ideal to help get small business owners up to speed with the essentials.

  • Hi Aileen, Not at the moment but maybe with your support we could get something moving, perhaps we talk next week? 

  • Empowering for me was a critical point. itsone thing to set targets etc.. and train someone to the hilt – but the other side of the coin is to facilitate them when they are able to make the next step forward in the process.

  • Thanks Niall!, The key is to push hard for answers and for performance but not in a way that will humiliate anyone or trivialise the process. Once people understand the power of learning from their peers in an open environment, then great strides are possible

  • Yup! There is nothing worse than micromanaging. It kills responsibility and creative thinking, wastes everyone’s time, and displays a total lack of faith in the team. Total waste of time

  • Harry

    Kelly – Very impressive and comprehensive list of resources. Of course, the best option to fund your business is from the existing cash flow, but that may not be possible in all situations especially when the business is just starting or growing rapidly.

    I would also add friends and family as another resource for funding. In many situations that may be your only option. Other option is to look at crowd funding sites such as Prosper.


    Kelly- Businesses may tend to look at banks for their primary source of
    debt capital. They should also consider non-bank entities like credit
    unions and Community Development Financial Institutions (“CDFIs”) as
    well. Both provide financing with credit standards that are less
    stringent then your traditional bank. They are located throughout the
    country and in urban and rural communities. This link to the CDFI fund site can help businesses find one in their area.

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