Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?

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Be a Luddite & save jobs!

I hate those self-service scanning machines in supermarkets. Tesco has long given up on the “two in a queue” customer service philosophy and now tries to persuade customers to use the self-service machines.

From what I’ve seen these are tedious to use with various menus to search through, don’t always work, and require staff on standby to help – and presumably deter theft.

The theft deterrence obviously doesn’t work as 7% of shoppers admit stealing when using self-service machines.

So you don’t have to be a celebrity to steal – like chef AWT. But celebs have always been partial to the odd freebie. Richard Madeley of “Richard & Judy” fame was once charged with shop-lifting champagne at Tesco’s but was acquitted after claiming memory loss. Not sure what AWT is claiming after being caught on camera five times and receiving a police caution but he says he’s seeking therapy, so that’s alright.

But back to the self-service machines. When ever I am asked to use them by a member of staff I refuse and ask them if they realise they are doing themselves out of jobs.

It’s the same in the banks. Don’t staff realise that every time we are asked to pay in by machine their job is put at risk?

And I realise I run the risk of being accused of being a Luddite but I prefer to be served by a person. Machines do not give you customer service.


From Bombay to Burnley

Santander recently announced that the call centres set up in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) by building societies, which are now part of Santander, were all closed down on July 1 and since then all their call centres have been in the UK, in Glasgow, Leicester, and Liverpool.

This is in response to Santander consistently being rated the worst bank for customer service. It is now ranked second worst after Barclays (which still has one call centre in India).

Indian call centres are a source of frustration to UK callers. Sometimes you can’t understand the accent and their adoption of English names, presumably to make you believe you are speaking to someone in England, is farcical. Also as problems have become more complex scripted responses don’t work so well.

The reasons for returning to the UK may not be totally altruistic as labour turnover has increased amongst the graduates who work in Indian call centres and wage costs have risen. Competition from the Philippines has also reduced India’s market share which has grown significantly in recent years.

Santander weren’t the first to make this decision. A lancashire telecom company, New Call Telecom, earlier announced that they were setting up a call centre in Burnley rather than in Mumbai. They said that staff in lancashire were hard-working and loyal and customers preferred dealing with people in this country.

Some banks such as the RBS, including NatWest, have always had UK call centres. NatWest however seems determined to force people to use automatic paying-in machines. The branch in Burnley closed down two cashier positions over a weekend earlier this year and rebuilt the wall so you couldn’t tell they were ever there.

This means the queues are getting even longer yet they have staff walking around asking if you want to pay in automatically despite customer complaints that they want to deal with a person. And how annoying is it when, after you have actually got a cashier to deal with your task, they ask if there is anything else they can do for you?

I’ve suggested they might wash my car or carry my shopping but to no avail. Now if I said I wanted to buy an insurance policy or see a financial advisor I bet I’d get a cup of coffee!

And I found out today that Santander only does business banking with automatic paying-in. So give them credit for the call centres but not for their automation – which means fewer jobs in the long run.