Customer Service & Root Cause Analysis


Right now, I am a Starling customer who uses their account for day to day contactless purchases and foreign currency purchases. I want to be someone who switches fully to Starling, and I’m sure that’s what Starling wants of many people. However, Starling is at risk of becoming known as the challenger bank with bad customer service.

No, this isn’t a thread about my experiences. I don’t actually have any, so this post does not come from a position of anger. This is a thread about Starling’s responses to other people’s experiences.

The general impression I have, as a customer, is that incidents have to blow up on the forum before they are looked in to. Even then, sometimes the response is just that - ‘we’re looking in to it’. Sometimes, Starling handwrites apologies and sends out some very nice looking socks.

This does nothing to address the root cause of the poor customer service. It does nothing to prevent it from happening to hundreds of other customers who are not as outspoken on the forum. And I’m afraid that Starling has not been detailed enough in their response to tackling the root cause.

I hope that a document at Starling HQ exists in a form similar to this:

Problem: Some of our customers report rude attitude from customer service staff
RCA Stage 1: The rude staff identified in investigation are X, Y, and Z
RCA Stage 2: X, Y and Z have been trained by W and have used TrainingManual_v1.pdf
RCA Stage 3: An investigation into W reveals they have an incorrect attitude to training staff. An investigation into TrainingManual_v1.pdf showed that it has several faults in it
Solution: Re-train or replace W, making necessary adjustments to create TrainingManual_v2.pdf

One could go even further to investigate the position of the people who drafted TrainingManual_v1.pdf but you get the idea.

However, with nothing said on the forums (that I can see - if it’s here, it needs to be more prominent) in any similar format, I can’t believe that customer service is going to improve, because Starling don’t seem to have engaged with the root cause and are instead just tackling issues on a case by case basis.

Again, a reminder: Starling is at risk of becoming known as the challenger bank with bad customer service. I didn’t say that, as of this very moment, Starling has bad customer service. I’m saying it’s a reputation issue. It needs to be managed.

On to the second, related issue… the cancelled card / fraud fiasco. That’s what it was - a fiasco. The message given to affected customers was completely reminiscent of a legacy bank. It was hostile to the user, and customer service were not appropriately trained on how to deal with the worried customers messaging them about the message. With the incredible benefit of hindsight, Monzo did this so. much. better. Once you see how Monzo did it, you are taken aback as to how obvious and user-friendly their solution to this issue was.

Instead of accepting that their competitor plainly did a better job, if I recall correctly Starling scrambled to help users decipher the message they received, saying that, in fact, Starling would protect customers from fraud and would not pass liability on to customers for failing to get new debit cards - something which, as we now know from Monzo, should have been done automatically by Starling.

Again, Starling said they were looking in to the message and the way it was delivered to people. Again, I hope a document at Starling HQ exists that looks a bit like this:

Problem: We sent a confusing and hostile message to customers about recent credit card fraud exposure
RCA Stage 1: The message was drafted by X
RCA Stage 2: An investigation found that X was hired from a legacy bank
RCA Stage 3: An investigation into this hiring process revealed that we did not take the appropriate steps to educate X and others like them about how Starling can use its challenger-based technology (e.g. the ability to freeze a card in-app) to better assist users. For this reason, they handled the issue like a legacy bank instead

And of course separate branches of root cause analysis for how customer services were trained (or not) to deal with customers asking about the message.

I hope this is happening. But with repeated failings, and no clearer messages from Starling staff on the forums as to how they are tackling these issues, I am worried. I don’t want to be ‘that guy’ that makes a post adding fuel to the fire over Starling’s issue with customer service, but you know what, maybe I should be. Because as Anne said in a recent interview, ‘As you know, Starling is all about customer service’.

Please note that the RCA examples in this post are pure speculation as to what might have happened. For all I know, X was not hired from a legacy bank. But some sort of RCA should be made.

Supporting our customers as we grow

A very thorough and well written post :+1:t2:


Indeed, a very thorough and well written post. Thank you @Sheza. We’re sorry for the service that you and others have been provided and we recognise that this has come up repeatedly in a range of conversations on the community.

After launching all sorts of new features and products recently, our customers service team has been inundated with chats, however, we have also been taking time to look into this at depth. We will be posting an update next week on our blog about how we plan to scale and improve the customer service we provide.


Wondering when the timescale is on replying to customer service messages ? Still awaiting a reply from 27th June about declined transactions in Croatia that are still pending in my account. Oddly enough I got an email on the 3rd asking how I rated the customer service received :smile: Being ignored and not having a reply I really had to say I wasn’t satisfied. These declined transactions and the bad customer service has put me on hold getting the joint account I have been waiting for. With still no reassurance that I can use my card abroad again I may have to jump ship with my personal account


That doesn’t sound like a very good experience. 100% understandably why you might not feel ok in getting a joint account and that are considering moving your solo account elsewhere.

@StarlingSupport can this be looked at?


Nice post. I think anyone with any ounce of sense could see launching big features so quickly would have caused big issues, well anyone apart from Starling it seems. Although they do tend to acknowledge they get it wrong eventually. I cancelled my Barclay’s card yesterday, phoned them up, say I’m away on Saturday, rather than the whole Starling reply about how we can’t control the speed of things like how long it takes for my card to arrive, Barclays reply was, let me get onto the branch nearest to you that can print them and get it sent out now for you I know Starling don’t have branches, but even Barclay’s go over and above what is expected at times. The whole cancelling my card and getting them to send me a new one, took less than 10 minutes. People wait for Starling to reply for hours if not days.

If you don’t have the customer service right, absolutely pointless launching big new products, because if you can’t cope with over 100k customers, how are you going to cope with 1 million and launching new products.

I like the fact Starling does listen sometimes, it just needs to get out of the whole legacy idea of our procedures are set in stone and we don’t want to change them.

I generally email rather than live chat if its not a major issue, but days for a reply, really isn’t suitable.


A very well constructed post. My worry is that reputations are hard to shake. If Starling gain a reputation as the challenger bank with crappy CS, it will be hard to shift, even if the CS is much improved.

I look forward to seeing the blog post @JamesPratley mentioned, and I hope it will address concerns and reassure people.

I’ve recently fully switched from First Direct for the features and ease that Starling provides. However, one thing I will miss is their first rate CS. I didn’t have to use it much, but when I did they were always a pleasure to deal with and very helpful.

If Starling can aspire to that level of CS, I think that would be fantastic.


So are admitting you have failed to live up to the first sentence of your privacy policy?


Great constructive post. I work heavily with customer service in a mainstream bank (customer facing) and can tell you that there are more policies for customer service than I’ve ever seen before. On one hand, it’s great to see that the customer experience is becoming the centre-focus of banks, however it needs to be managed effectively by the bank and controlled, otherwise you get different people getting different experiences.

People are much more likely to share a bad experience than a good one, which is always a challenge, it’s learning nothing from these complaints that is the mistake. It’s about telling the customer what can be done, rather than what can’t be done.

However, on a personal note, I’ve interacted with the customer service team at Starling a couple of times and the service I’ve received has been top notch.


Thanks everyone for your comments here. You may be interested to see our latest blog post below:


I’m now going to close this thread, as we have the one in my above post and this general one:

Thanks! :slight_smile: