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MSE News: First Direct's top for service again — what's the secret?

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MSE News: First Direct's top for service again — what's the secret?

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Budgeting & Bank Accounts
43 replies 8.3K views
MSE_GuyMSE_Guy MSE Staff
1.7K posts
I've been Money Tipped! Newshound! Chutzpah Haggler
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Budgeting & Bank Accounts
This is the discussion thread for the following MSE News Story:

"First Direct has come top of all our polls on bank account customer service over the past 18 months. What is it doing right?..."
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Replies

  • MandelbrotMandelbrot
    9.1K posts
    Rampant Recycler
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    Where's the pics, Guy?
    e.g.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Lo6jEgADGI

    Printed interviews are so last year ...
  • originalmiscellanyoriginalmiscellany Forumite
    1.7K posts
    Part of the Furniture Mortgage-free Glee!
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    Well, I've been pleased with them for the past three years, and can only echo what else has been said by the write up. Fast service, very friendly, and very supportive even with daft enquiries. I certainly am very happy with what and how they operate.
    Feb 2012 - onwards MF achieved
    September 2016 - Back into clearing a mortgage - Was due to be paid off in 32 years in March 2047 -
    April 2018 down to 28.00 months vs 30.04 months at normal payment.
    Predicted mortgage clearing 03/2047 - now looking at 02/2045

    Aims: 1) To pay off mortgage within 20 years - 2037
  • PincherPincher
    6.6K posts
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    Coming up to 20 years as a First Direct customer.

    Lloyds Bank got me as an undergraduate, but then they shut the nearest branch, followed by their second nearest branch. NatWest opened my account and then started sending me statements for somebody else; the counter was staffed with school leavers

    I probably call First Direct once a year, and do all my banking online. They do answer Secure e-mails within about a day.

    First Direct does have an income threshold, so people on the margins of solvency tend not to qualify. I expect this avoids a fair bit of potential disputes with customers who need to juggle the pennies.
  • jet9catjet9cat Forumite
    1.7K posts
    I'll tell you what the secret is to their good service - as mentioned in the article when youring up you're straight through to a real human being who can answer without sounding like they're reading off a script. Every other call centre from utilities/Sky/government departments (especially the one I work for) has so many option menus that I tend to give up or take two attempts to get through to where I need to be. This is why I have stuck with First Direct for years, even if I can get a better rate elsewhere. I would recommend them to anyone which is not something I normally do with companies like this - it makes a real change to see a company put customers first and mean it not just quote it like a soundbite but not deliver
    Every penny's a prisoner
    PADding is addictive
    MFW August 2023 - unless I get my butt into gear :D
  • jamesdjamesd Forumite
    24K posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts
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    An illustration of the difference between First Direct and Santander based on my interactions over the last few days.

    First Direct: I've been using my account in an uncommon way that caused FD to wonder where the funds I was moving were coming from. After investigation all was fine on that side but FD decided that they didn't want me using the account in the way I was using it. This will cost me about £500 a year. As well as sending me a letter that I haven't received yet, someone from FD phoned to tell me the decision, explain it and answer my questions about it. That's how I try to deliver bad news to customers at my own workplace - it's better than just email or a letter. But not a type of call that most people enjoy making.

    Santander: called to add a new payee. Transferred £1 to test it and logged out. After verifying that the money had arrived at the destination I set up a payment to the new payee to go out the next day. Later I tried to log in and found the account blocked. Called, staff member checked with security who could see no reason for the block removed it. End of call. Logged in, tried to do a transaction. Couldn't. Call again, OK, we'll remove that block as well, the money will be sent, no need to send it again. Next day, money not sent, call again, first line person said the transaction was unblocked, should have gone as planned, checked with security then came back saying it had been canceled, not unblocked, I should do the transaction again. The people are polite enough, shame they can't get it right first time and actually deliver. There's potential here if they can fix that.
  • I opened an ISA in March 2011, forgetting that I'd already put £100 in a since-closed ISA with HSBC at the very start of the same tax year - this was picked up in their checks so the account was converted to a tax-paying one.

    A technical breach of the rules on my part, not FD's fault and not their rules - what annoyed me was that they didn't contact me, they simply removed ISA status. It was only TWO MONTHS later that I noticed interest was being taxed.

    The sensible thing would have been to close the account and tell me to open a new one once the new tax year had started, but there was no communication whatsoever.

    I suspect the dead hand of a compliance team was behind it, and to the credit of FD once I queried it I was called back by a helpful lady who managed to explain what had happened, offer apologies, and not make me feel like a criminal. I doubt whether that resolution would have been achieved by HSBC (I know they're the same company by the way).
    Long-haul Supporters DFW 120
    Debt @ LBM (October 2007): £55187
    Debt Now (April 2014): £0
    Debt-free-date: [STRIKE]July[/STRIKE] April 2014 :j:j:j
  • First Direct have excellent service. I mostly use their Internet Banking and use the plus service too. I rarely call them and when I do, it is not time restricted and they know their stuff. Every department is 24/7 and if I need transferring, the new advisor knows my name and my query. I do not chase interest rates as I prefer instant access to money, if and when needed and FD has range of savings accounts to suit this.
  • Geniie wrote: »
    First Direct have excellent service. I mostly use their Internet Banking and use the plus service too. I rarely call them and when I do, it is not time restricted and they know their stuff. Every department is 24/7 and if I need transferring, the new advisor knows my name and my query. I do not chase interest rates as I prefer instant access to money, if and when needed and FD has range of savings accounts to suit this.

    This.

    If I ever do have to phone them . . . I speak to a British person within 3 rings rather than pressing endless buttons to navigate random IVR menus and said person knows what I'm talking about & treats me as a person not a number. My query / problem is resolved in a '1 call resolution' approach and I leave every call wondering why anyone in their right mind would bank anywhere else.

    I can't claim to have had an experience that comes even close to that with any other bank or services company.

    To date - I have a Citibank Savings account & a Natwest Savings account both sat dormant because I decided after the account opening process that I'd rather stick my head in a blender than battle with their crappy processes, endless call wait times and downright useless, unhelpful staff than appoint them with the privelage of caretaking even a penny of my cash.

    If Carlsberg made banks . . . they'd still not be as good as First Direct ;)
  • bengal-stripebengal-stripe Forumite
    3.3K posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Combo Breaker
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    Pincher wrote: »
    First Direct does have an income threshold, so people on the margins of solvency tend not to qualify. I expect this avoids a fair bit of potential disputes with customers who need to juggle the pennies.

    Due to the higher threshold who gets accepted (or rejected) as customer, FD has a clientèle which is financially far more literate and sophisticated then the people who get attracted by the 'all comers taken' approach of the ordinary high street bank. So, FD has not many customers with unreasonable expectations, as a result. they have less banking problems and less (or no) attitude problems.

    I presume the same level of customer satisfaction applies to private banks like Coutts, just because they don't cater for the problem-causing riff-raff.
  • RedBernRedBern Forumite
    1.2K posts
    My daughter switched to FD from Santander a couple of years ago. She then went on holiday, when she came home found her phone bill hadn't been paid through the new account, so couldn't use her phone, had no new cash card and old account was closed. I rang FD and explained her problem, she had no account details or phone credit. They rang her straight away and arranged to get the phone bill paid and then sorted everything else. Reacted with common sense and speed.
    Bern :j
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