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.