Santander to axe Indian call centres
Santander's new UK boss has axed its Indian call centres and pledged to work towards becoming the best bank for customer service in the UK...
A leopard may not be able to change its spots but can a Spaniard change its service? Ask this question of Santander’s new UK boss Ana Botin and the reply will be a firm ‘sí.’
Over the last few years the Spanish bank has taken its fair share of flak from consumer polls, articles and indeed lovemoney.com readers over its shoddy customer service. One reader even re-named the bank Satandare after a particularly gruelling experience!
But it appears that all of the hollering and ranting was not in vain, as Santander has now pledged to change its ways...
Call centre move
Last week Santander announced that it would be moving its Indian call centres back to the UK after a raft of complaints. The bank said it had made this decision after identifiying that call centre quality was one of the most important factors for customers.
As a result of the change, Santander has taken on an extra 500 UK staff to handle the estimated 1.5 million calls received by the bank each year.
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The move is part of a wider push by Santander to improve its notoriously poor customer service.
A chequered past
In an interview with the BBC, the Santander UK Chief Executive, Ana Botin said that as a result of the bank’s acquisition of Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and parts of Bradford & Bingley in 2008, service standards had suffered. But she added that they were now working hard to improve standards and aimed to one day become the best bank for customer service in the UK.
This is certainly an ambitious aim for a bank with such a chequered past.
Santander has consistently come last in customer satisfaction surveys conducted by numerous consumer groups. And indeed, anytime lovemoney.com mentions the Spanish bank within our articles, a wave of nightmarish stories and criticism floods the comments thread.
However, you have to hand it to Santander for acknowledging that it has a problem and attempting to sort it out. Yet as we reported last year, the bank has been promising improvements in service for a while now – taking on 600 extra branch staff back in July 2010 and adding 400 more call centre staff not long after that.
And have we seen any improvements since then?
Well, a Which? survey carried out last month looking into customer satisfaction with savings accounts still placed Santander at the bottom.
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So there’s obviously still a long way to go for the Spanish giant. But if it can clean up its service, Santander could take a large step up the UK banking ladder...
Putting the shoddy customer service aside, on paper Santander isn’t a bad bank. And before the comments come in accusing me of being in the pay of Santander, let me assure you, I’m not. I’m simply stating that when you look at the financial products on offer from the bank, they’re fairly solid. Just take a look at its current account range.
Santander has the best account for both overdrafts and interest rates in its Preferred Current Account. It offers 5% on balances up to £2,500 for the first 12 months as well as an interest-free overdraft for the first year, matched to your previous arrangement up to £5,000 (depending on your credit score). The bank is also offering £100 cashback for all new customers.
However you will have to pay in at least £1,000 every month, switch two active direct debits or standing orders and make the change using Santander’s designated switching service to be eligible for all these perks.
Yes, it seems that to get the best deals with Santander, you must either be an existing customer or show that the bank that you’re not planning on ditching them in a hurry. A telling trend for a bank with such a sketchy customer service history.
But if you really can’t bring yourself to believe that Santander will clean itself up, here are a couple of other banks you can depend upon for good customer service...
Current service leaders
First Direct is a bit of favourite here at lovemoney.com. The bank consistently tops our awards charts and is frequently praised by readers for its fantastic customer service. We even named its 1st current account the ‘sexiest bank account in Britain’ back in 2010 on account of its £250 0% overdraft and First Direct’s £100 cashback offer when you switch to them (and a further £100 if you decide to leave within six months).
The Co-operative Bank is also a safe bet if you’re after good customer service. And again, they have a fairly competitive current account on offer that gives you a £200 fee-free overdraft. But to be eligible for the Co-op’s Current Account Plus you will need to pay £800 into the account every month.
Is it possible?
What do you think? Can Santander change its ways?
Let us know using the comment box below.