Dear National Australia Bank,
I'm writing this letter to let you know I really respect the fact that you're not bowing to the pressures of marketing messages that have flooded the airwaves over the last few years: "customer focussed", "friendly", "making it easy" to name a few–these catch phrases are for the masses; you've stood alone and that is something to be admired.
Sticking to your guns under this sort of pressure can't be easy. Deciding that some traditions should not be sacrificed in the name of modernisation is a bold move. Why should the needs of the customer take priority when you're flat out with the very important job of running your bank?
As a New Zealand based business operating in Australia, it's understandable that opening an account for us is not something that should be rushed. Why wouldn't you require a small phonebook worth of forms to be completed–it may not all be necessary or relevant but good for you to have just in case. And I'm not about to complain regarding the repetitive nature of the questions in the forms, each bank department needs their own copy no doubt and we know that photocopiers are expensive to run. I totally understand that you are very busy with bank business and it would take a lot of time to rationalise this type of paperwork or to even consider an online version.
Some might think our long standing, positive relationship with your outpost subsidiary, the Bank of New Zealand, would offer some assurance of our credibility and facilitate an expedited account opening process. But not me, after all they are just that, a subsidiary and who knows what happens in the wilderness that is New Zealand. It would be unreasonable to consider their endorsement to be of any value.
I felt dreadful each time either myself or our BNZ account manager pestered your staff with follow-up calls and emails about the status of our account. By whose standards is seven months a long time to have an account opened? We have one now, surely that's all that really matters?
Once the account was opened, I was thrilled to receive a call from your on-boarding team to set up our online banking facilities. I could see the value in going through his substantial list of questions during our fifteen minute phone call. Having already provided a lot of the information in the account application forms, I knew all the answers.
And is it really that big of a deal that we're not able to get any sort of debit or EFTPOS card to access the account? It's not your fault that we don't have an ACN making it almost impossible for us to get a credit card which is the only way your business accounts can be accessed directly. We can just make do processing payments online and reimbursing our staff who use their personal New Zealand credit cards. Sometimes it can be a bit fiddly with the foreign currency conversions, but we'll manage.
Historically, banking institutions have been highly respected members of the business community, but over the last couple of decades their importance and status has been diluted. Businesses are now claiming to be the real heart of a country's economy and consumers' expectations regarding service is unprecedented. It astounds me that other banks have capitulated to the demands of this new thinking. In New Zealand banks bend over backwards to make it easy to do business with them. The lengths they'll go to, to attract and retain customers is nothing short of outrageous!
So thanks NAB, it's just great to know that this weakness hasn't infected every bank – it's comforting that there are those who are staying with tradition, choosing not to deviate from their core values.
I think we've all learnt a lot from this experience.
Managing Director – Custom D Limited