Sunday, 30 November 2014

How not to win new customers

This is not a story about my own business.

This is a story that is related to my business.

This is a story about something pertinent to be being in business in the first place.

This is a story about how a single element can become a stumbling block when those dealing with it are unable to think practically.

This is a story about opening a business banking account.
Bear with me, it's a bit longer than usual.

So. Everything is done online nowadays.
I complete the forms, tick the relevant boxes, provide all the required information.
I receive a phone call the following week to review the details.

Bank: "Is your name Something-Hyphen-Other?"
LCM: "No, my maiden name, which is what I use for work, is Something. My married name is Other."
Bank: "Well, your application says it is Something-Hyphen-Other. Which is it?"
LCM: "I just told you."
Bank: "So is it Something, or is it Other?"
LCM (now getting confused): "It's Something. Other is my married name."
Bank: "Is there a Hyphen?"
LCM: "No. Maiden name Something. Married name Other. No Hyphen. You put that in there, not me."
Bank: "No we didn't."
LCM: "Well I haven't invented it and my application asked for both names, which I gave, and you have put the two together and added the Hyphen."
Bank: "Well, it doesn't match what is listed under your company name at Companies House."
LCM: "Yes it does. I have it here in front of me, I can see it."
Bank: "But there's no Hyphen."
LCM: "We're going round in circles here. YOU put that in there, not me."
Bank: "We have to follow a process. We will cancel the application and you will need to reapply. Using just Something."
LCM: "Oh? Right. Okay, I'll do that then."

Blame the hour, I foolishly agreed to follow this path. And reapplied. And just used my Something maiden name, as this is what I am known by in the business world.

One week on. Another phone call to review the details. Different person.

Bank: "So your name is Something?"
LCM: "Uhmm, yes. It is."
Bank: "But your company is registered to Something Other."
LCM: "Correct."
Bank: "But that does not match your business banking application? It has to match."
LCM: "I applied previously using both names, you added Hyphen, and told me it was invalid. I have now done as requested and you are telling me it is also no good?"
Bank: "We have to follow a process. Your name does not match that at Companies House."
LCM: "I'm delighted you have a process. You seem to vary it according to whom I talk to on the phone. My maiden name is Something, my married name is Other. What do you propose?"
Bank: "You need to prove your identity. Can you take your passport and your marriage certificate to your nearest branch for them to copy and certify?"
LCM (rolling eyes, wondering what is the point of online banking): "If that helps clarify and progress this application? Of course."

And I did.
Passport showing both maiden Something name and married Other name.
Marriage certificate showing both my maiden Something name and OH's Other name.
Copies made, HQ notified, details entered in their systems. Everything in order, told this was all that was required and the application should progress tout suite.

Tout suite my arse.

More days later. Another phone call. Different person. Again.

Bank: "Your company is registered at Companies House with Mrs Something Other as sole director?"
LCM: "Correct."
Bank: "But you are Mrs Something?"
LCM: "Yes. Other is my married name."
Bank: "We cannot accept that."
LCM: "WTF? I did as you requested, took documents to your branch, had them verified, certified, copied, put online in my application to prove I am who I say I am, and you now say you cannot accept it?"
Bank: "We have to follow a process."
LCM: "Hmmm. Interesting, I have heard that before, but somehow your process seems to shift sideways every time I speak to someone different. What do you propose now?"
Bank: "You need to contact Companies House and change your name."
LCM (almost speechless): "What? Why do I need to change my name?"
Bank: "It does not match your application."
LCM (takes cue for sarcasm overload): "So, let me get this right. You tell me you have a process to follow. You tell me how I need to complete my application. You tell me which name to use. You then tell me I have to prove my identity, provide evidence of my maiden and my married name. I comply with all of this and then you tell me I have to CHANGE my name at Companies House? What planet are you lot on exactly?"
Bank: "Your name as registered at Companies House does not match your application."
LCM: "Yes. It does. And I have proven it to you. And you have all the relevant necessary information on my file now."
Bank: "We have a process to follow_"
LCM (now fed up to the back teeth): "Do you know what? I appreciate you have a process. But one that moves the goalposts every time I speak to someone else from your organisation does not bode well at all for our future relationship, business or otherwise. So you can stick your damn process up your backside and delete my application from your systems because I am taking my banking elsewhere."

And I hung up.

And walked into a branch of a new 'can do' bank's branch the very next day and opened a business banking account.

It took all of an hour. Certified, verified, compliant, and valid.
And I only dealt with ONE person.


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