HSBC Premier Banking – not the best service around
The HSBC offers a Premier Banking service, like a number of other high street banks.
Benefits offered include free travel insurance, preferential lending rates, and improved customer service.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to relate in what way the customer service is actually improved.
True, you may find yourself able to avoid queues in high street branches by being ushered to a more private area, where your banking requirements can be dealt with.
Additionally, you also have access to a Premier Direct telephone service.
The trouble is, the HSBC isn’t really renown for customer service. You cannot ring up any local branch directly, but instead have to ring an Indian call centre first, who will then attempt to put you through to the relevant branch or person at their discretion.
The impression given is that customer service is provided on the cheap, because the customers themselves aren’t worth a higher level of service. It saves the HSBC money, certainly, but it takes away from the customer experience, rather than adds to it.
HSBC Premier customers do have access to UK call centre staff. Unfortunately, it feels like you are actually dealing with just call centre staff, rather than anyone with any real banking training as you’d expect from calling a high street branch – and that means all of the problems endemic with call centres.
I’ve twice called to put in requests to have someone contact myself about personal investment vehicles, and have never received a reply.
Additionally, like too many call centres, you can find yourself cut-off without warning, especially if the call is being transferred between departments or you are kept on hold for a certain length of time.
As was the case when I called HSBC Premier this week about arranging a small loan.
I only wanted to request £1000 – we’re buying a big new shed for the back garden, and as a company director I live on quarterly dividend payments. Which means spending a few thousand in a single month can dent the personal finances somewhat – especially when I’m overpaying my mortgage twice over each month as well.
Unfortunately, HSBC show their continued contempt for their own customers – even Premier ones.
After being cut off and calling again, I was informed that for a £1000 loan, HSBC would charge me 19.9% – for no other reason than it’s not worth their time to offer such a loan without charge extensively to cover their interest.
The sad thing is how badly this impact brand loyalty.
My fixed rate mortgage comes up for renewal next year. I’m sure the HSBC would love to get their hands on it. And, previously, I would have been happy to go direct to them because it would seem like less hassle to get a mortgage from my personal bank.
However, HSBC have made it clear that customer care and developing brand loyalty just aren’t priorities for them. Better to aggressively chase profits at the expense of customers, which may offer short-term gains, but possibly also offer long-term losses.
Because of their failure to get back to myself on investment options, I’m now going to be setting up a new £20k investment portfolio with another company. Not a really large investment, but HSBC wouldn’t even offer themselves as an option.
And when my £200+k mortgage comes up for renewal next year, HSBC have already told me via my loan request that I’m not worth their time unless I’m offering them a big profit. So what incentive do I have to care to offer it to them?
In the meantime, I ended up approaching Northern Rock, who offer a great rate of 7.4% on personal loans, and ended up increasing my loan amount to £2000.
At this rate, and with their apparently better understanding of customer care, Northern Rock could also get my mortgage.
In the meantime, HSBC will be counting the pennies they saved, not realising the pounds that they’ve lost.
Unfortunately, from my personal experiences with other major banks, there’s is not an isolated attitude.
In the meantime HSBC Premier banking offers me free travel insurance, though I rarely travel, preferential lending rates only when it’s worth them making the effort, and the customer care level continues to be below par.
Some people like myself already qualify for Premier banking for free – and for the freebies I’m sure I’m grateful. But I certainly wouldn’t pay for this kind of service if I’m really honest.
UPDATE: 22/08/2007 – Someone from the HSBC press office emailed me after reading this, stating that HSBC offer Personal Relation Managers, and to raise any queries with him.
I sent an email reply pointing out that I no longer had a PRM – I guess HSBC aren’t immune from high staff turnover in call centres.
Unfortunately, my email bounced. The HSBC mailserver produced a “421 Service not available” error. Somehow that seems to underline the problems I reported in the original post.