Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Story About A Credit Card, A Tailor, and A Bank

Here at VoiceSage we think about how, when and where people would like to be "interrupted", and what they would want to do "in that particular context". The thing is that every customer company relationship has its own context, and every person will have different psychological thresholds. In a way, how we interrupt our customers is a corollary of how much attention they want to give us. Let me illustrate with a personal experience. I was in Abraham's tailors (Little Ann Street, Dublin) and having had a wonderful buying experience I hand over my credit card. As I've said before I think the "checkout" experience is key to entire purchasing process. Well, the card was stopped and the staff member was advised by the machine to have the customer call the bank in question. "Perhaps" my tailor advised "you have run over the limit?". "Not likely" I replied, "I have acres of space on the card". My tailor handed me the land line, and we called the bank. The bank did not deal with the query and handed me over to credit card services, who in turn told me to go to the local bank branch IN PERSON and sort this out. Wow, I said. I work in this kind of business and this is a horror. "No problem said the Taylor. I will hold the suit for you". I go to the bank THE NEXT DAY and they say, hey no problem with the card. "You were just making an unusual purchase, and they stopped the card" (because I was in Dublin, not Limerick). I think I looked at the bank official for a few minutes waiting to see what they were going to do to ensure that this situation would never happen again. No such luck. First, there is no reason why when an account is triggered as a potential fraud alert that a call cannot be initiated to that person's known mobile, a pin number requested, a transaction legitimised, and a confirmation received, all in the one phone call and with no other need for human interaction. Secondly, an automated call asking for verification could have increased my confidence in my credit card company; Thirdly, I could be a "highly risk averse person" who very much appreciates these kinds of alerts and interrupts.

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