Living in the UK for four years have opened my eyes on many things, starting from myself and ending with customer
service. I have always wondered why British people are so efficient, hardworking and loyal to whatever they do. Aren’t we as Muslims supposed to be this way? Unfortunatly, we are completely the opposite, and I guess this is one of the reasons why we are still seen as third world people! There is so much to write about when it comes to this subject. But I chose to talk about customer service in Banks. A very simple example to show the difference between dealing with British system and Qatari system, I chose to tell you a short story about a normal day at Barclays Bank, and another at Qatar National Bank.
A Day at Barclays:
I went in to the Branch in town, not the one where I opened the account in. I lost my card and so I needed a new one. I also needed to send some money to my sister. So I queued in a very organized queue that is far from where the bank agent is. There was a line on the floor that showed where the queue starts so that people are not so close to hear other’s private financial issues when they are dealing with the agent.
I was looking around and noticed that everyone was wearing professional clothes. If I had eye contact with any of them, they would smile. Sometimes if it was crowded, someone would come and ask people in the queue if they can help so that they don’t have to wait longer. I realized that they have a machine where you can print out detailed bank statement, insert and withdraw cash and many other things. I got to the bank agent and explained to her what I want to do. She was smiling the whole time; and the first thing she asked was “can I see your ID please?”, then she asked me all sorts of security questions to make sure this was me. In few minutes everything was done, and I received my card 3 days later. They have a time frame for everything, for example, a new card should be issued and delivered in maximum 5 working days.
Barclays also have a fraud monitor system. If they suspected any transactions, they would call you and ask you about it to make sure that there is no fraud. And if your money was taken in any fraud transaction, the bank will return it for you. I also remember when I wanted to close my account. I simply told a bank agent that I want to close my account, and was done in five minutes.
A Day at QNB:
An ATM machine swallowed my bank card because I entered the wrong pin several times. It was a Monday, I called the bank and they said that they will get me the card in three working days but because the third day is Thursday, I might get it the week after! I was told that the card should be working once they get it our of the ATM machine. The week after came, and my dad was the one who picked up the card. Apparently, its lost and found, so anyone who asks for it will get it! Not only that, but my dad can also ask for my bank statement and know all my transaction by just mentioning that he is my dad! Apparently some banks in Qatar believe that, parental rights and authority extends to having the right to know intimate financial issues. Cool! Anyways, the card was not working of course so I had to order a new one.
I went to the ladies branch in Alsaad, because if I ever have to do something, I have to go there! What is the point of having different branches then! People seemed grumpy. Nobody smiled. And I couldn’t tell the difference between bank agents and customers. The bank agents were not wearing a uniform or something formal. They girls had too much makeup, messy hair, too much color!
I filled the application for emergency card, that is supposed to be given immediately. While I was doing this, another customer was sitting at the chair opposite me. She heard all my details and didn’t move. I told the Bank agent “don’t you think that this is invasion of my privacy?”. She said “I cant ask her to leave”. I said “if you cant then who can?”. The other customer thought I was rude! I bet she was thinking “elly egool 3indaha malayeen” LOL
The Bank agent handed me the card; in less than 15 minutes I was done. Then I asked her a question that I thought was unnecessary; “So can I withdraw some cash now?”. And she said “oh no, the card will be activated after one to two weeks”.
My attitude came out and I said
– “What? are you joking? Why would you call it emergency card if it takes two weeks to be activated?”
– “It is called emergency because we give it to you the same day you apply for it”
– “But what is the point of having the card if I can’t withdraw? Am I supposed to stare at it? or feel sorry for myself that I have money that I cant spend?”
-“I am sorry but this is the procedure”
– “Do you really call this service?”
The lady had a fake smile and was looking at me. I am sure she was thinking “what a weirdo!” Well, its not her fault anyway. I took the card feeling extremely frustrated. And I felt even worse when I knew that I had to queue again to take the new pin number from the reception desk. When it was my turn, the lady got suddenly busy with something else and I had to wait for five more minutes. It might not seem long, but for me, it felt like eternity that day.
I was not surprised that these things happened at QNB. One time I was very upset that I always have to go to the ladies branch to finish paper work. I wanted to transfer my account to the branch near our house. I was told that I have to “CLOSE” the account and open a new one. And to do that I have to have approval from work, and bank manager! I told them “am not going to a new bank, I just want to be in a different branch”. But there was no point trying to put some sense into them. On top of that, the bank agent at the ladies branch screamed at me once I told her I want to move to another branch, she put her hands on her waist and said “NO NO NO, I wont let you leave, why do you want to go to another branch”!
Another thing about QNB is that if they suspect fraud, they simply shut down your account without telling you. This always happen to me when I travel. Even though I called them before leaving, and told them I will go to several countries and they should not block the account. And to reactivate your account, you can just send you mom or dad, and they will.
This is just one story, from one aspect of customer service. I could go on forever, but this is just to give you an idea. Am sure each one of us has a bank story, I would like you sharing your stories with me