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  • FIRST POST
    • MSE Guy
    • By MSE Guy 22nd Feb 12, 3:47 PM
    • 1,628Posts
    • 1,255Thanks
    MSE Guy
    MSE News: First Direct's top for service again what's the secret?
    • #1
    • 22nd Feb 12, 3:47 PM
    MSE News: First Direct's top for service again what's the secret? 22nd Feb 12 at 3:47 PM
    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?..."

Page 1
    • Mandelbrot
    • By Mandelbrot 22nd Feb 12, 4:34 PM
    • 8,633 Posts
    • 18,640 Thanks
    Mandelbrot
    • #2
    • 22nd Feb 12, 4:34 PM
    • #2
    • 22nd Feb 12, 4:34 PM
    Where's the pics, Guy?
    e.g.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Lo6jEgADGI

    Printed interviews are so last year ...
    • originalmiscellany
    • By originalmiscellany 22nd Feb 12, 4:58 PM
    • 1,612 Posts
    • 3,888 Thanks
    originalmiscellany
    • #3
    • 22nd Feb 12, 4:58 PM
    • #3
    • 22nd Feb 12, 4:58 PM
    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
    • Pincher
    • By Pincher 22nd Feb 12, 5:26 PM
    • 6,516 Posts
    • 2,491 Thanks
    Pincher
    • #4
    • 22nd Feb 12, 5:26 PM
    • #4
    • 22nd Feb 12, 5:26 PM
    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.
    • jet9cat
    • By jet9cat 22nd Feb 12, 5:26 PM
    • 1,655 Posts
    • 11,319 Thanks
    jet9cat
    • #5
    • 22nd Feb 12, 5:26 PM
    • #5
    • 22nd Feb 12, 5:26 PM
    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
  • jamesd
    • #6
    • 22nd Feb 12, 5:47 PM
    • #6
    • 22nd Feb 12, 5:47 PM
    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.
    • Billy-no-Money
    • By Billy-no-Money 22nd Feb 12, 6:31 PM
    • 320 Posts
    • 341 Thanks
    Billy-no-Money
    • #7
    • 22nd Feb 12, 6:31 PM
    • #7
    • 22nd Feb 12, 6:31 PM
    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: July April 2014
  • Geniie
    • #8
    • 22nd Feb 12, 8:21 PM
    Fd
    • #8
    • 22nd Feb 12, 8:21 PM
    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.
    • Pheebs67
    • By Pheebs67 22nd Feb 12, 8:30 PM
    • 67 Posts
    • 18 Thanks
    Pheebs67
    • #9
    • 22nd Feb 12, 8:30 PM
    • #9
    • 22nd Feb 12, 8:30 PM
    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.
    Originally posted by Geniie
    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-stripe
    • By bengal-stripe 22nd Feb 12, 9:28 PM
    • 3,222 Posts
    • 2,121 Thanks
    bengal-stripe
    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.
    Originally posted by Pincher
    Due to the higher threshold who gets accepted (or rejected) as customer, FD has a clientle 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.
    • RedBern
    • By RedBern 22nd Feb 12, 9:39 PM
    • 1,209 Posts
    • 1,328 Thanks
    RedBern
    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
    • WelshRarebit
    • By WelshRarebit 22nd Feb 12, 11:37 PM
    • 83 Posts
    • 36 Thanks
    WelshRarebit
    Great service...shame about the new website...anyone seen the backlash going on in the First Direct Lab feedback area?
    • Mandelbrot
    • By Mandelbrot 23rd Feb 12, 12:49 AM
    • 8,633 Posts
    • 18,640 Thanks
    Mandelbrot
    Great service...shame about the new website...anyone seen the backlash going on in the First Direct Lab feedback area?
    Originally posted by WelshRarebit
    General view seems to be "If it ain't broke ..."
    Interesting to refer back to some comment by Mark Mullen in the interview I posted earlier - about how the bank should always stay focussed on it's core purpose - being a bank that gives good service & listens to its customers.
    We'll see ...
    Last edited by Mandelbrot; 23-02-2012 at 12:51 AM.
    • fannyanna
    • By fannyanna 23rd Feb 12, 8:10 AM
    • 2,568 Posts
    • 8,801 Thanks
    fannyanna
    I've banked with FD for 8 years now and I'm still so impressed by the service that they provide.

    In recent years I have had cause to make a couple of complaints but despite this I'm still a happy customer. I was extremely impressed at the way in which my complaints were handled. Afterwards I was then contacted by another company who had been appointed by First Direct to get some customer feedback. It says a lot when a company is actively trying to get feedback from a set of customers who are potentially going to be unhappy with them.

    The thing that I like most about FD is the fact that I dial a number and within a few seconds a human being is talking to me. In the 8 years that I have been with FD I can probably count on one hand the number of times that I've heard their automated message which apologises for the fact that I'm having to wait for someone to answer the call due to call volumes. And on the odd occassion that it has happened I've not been waiting long.

    With regards to the website - I am one of the people who think that the change was unecessary and not very good. I find it bizarre that the homepage is now mainly white when FD are famous for use of the colour black. But ultimately if a banks biggest source of negativity stems from the appearance of their website they're clearly doing something right.
    • tkwad
    • By tkwad 23rd Feb 12, 8:42 AM
    • 174 Posts
    • 23 Thanks
    tkwad
    i spent some time as an employee for first direct. I underwent their training, its all about the sales, the rapport is simply to build trust, then go in for the sales.
    its a bank, its a business, the calls are not timed as such but there are targets to be met.
    I didnt enjoy my time as an employee as i found them to be totally unsympathetic to my family needs ie care of sick child, ie if it happens again your out.
    • AirlieBird
    • By AirlieBird 23rd Feb 12, 9:55 AM
    • 1,039 Posts
    • 851 Thanks
    AirlieBird
    General view seems to be "If it ain't broke ..."
    Interesting to refer back to some comment by Mark Mullen in the interview I posted earlier - about how the bank should always stay focussed on it's core purpose - being a bank that gives good service & listens to its customers.
    We'll see ...
    Originally posted by Mandelbrot
    Don't hold out much hope of them doing anything about the website. They got the same reaction in the lab as they are now getting when they trialled it last year. If they didn't listen then....
    • Martinslovechild
    • By Martinslovechild 23rd Feb 12, 12:07 PM
    • 1,544 Posts
    • 1,646 Thanks
    Martinslovechild
    It's a shame that FD have chosen to invest a lot of cash recently into a re-haul of their commercial website but have chosen not to spend any cash on developing the Online Banking area.

    There are some key vulnerabilities which I informed First Direct about a year ago which are still outstanding:-

    Internet Banking Access
    1. Internet Banking loads in a separate, small pop-up window. This is very old-fashioned. Personally, I would prefer the 'Internet Banking' link to redirect me to the Internet Banking logon screen in the main webpage window.


    Security
    2. In the 'Internet Banking Log On' page, if an incorrect username is entered, the warning 'Your username has not been recognised. Please try again' is displayed. From a security perspective, this is dangerous as it instantly visually alerts hackers to the existence of a valid account. Symantec would advise that the log on should continue regardless of an invalid entry to the next page (password and security question) - even in the case of an invalid logon ID having been entered - and only report that one or more details have been entered incorrectly after the user clicks [Proceed] - this way, hackers are completely in the dark as to which piece of security information is invalid. If an invalid logon ID has been initially entered on the initial page, a random question could be asked on the password page to fool them.

    3. I would prefer dropdown controls instead of textboxes for the 3 password character fields. This is to prevent keyloggers from collecting any password-related data.


    Menus
    4. It is not obvious that the menus collapse and expand to an inexperienced user. Normally, [+] and [-] symbols are shown next to collapsing/contracting menu options to indicate that this is the case. Certain menu options (e.g. 'View Statements') actually load a new webpage, whereas other options (e.g. 'My Details') simply expand the menu option. This difference in behaviour makes the site less easy to navigate.

    5. When a collapsing menu is selected (e.g. 'Order Items') when one is already open (e.g. 'My Details'), the first one automatically contracts. Why?


    Payments & Transfers
    6. Clicking 'Standing Orders' brings up a combined list of standing orders & direct debits. The 'type' field is the only visible differentiator. Why can't the standing orders be in a table at the top while the direct debits are shown in another table underneath - this would be much more visible.

    7. Why do Standing Orders appear to be set up manually by First Direct staff? I've never been required to enter information such as 'monthly on 20th' in a frequency field before. Normally, I would expect prompts such as 'Daily/Weekly/Monthly/Annually' and 'Payment Start Date'.

    8. When I set up a payment for a credit card, if I know all of the banking details for the card including the reference (card number), account number & sort code, the website simply rejects it if I attempt to enter it using the 'Pay Another Person' option. The site simply instructs me to select the card from the 'Pay A Company' list, complaining that the payment should be added using that option - this seems ridiculous!

    9. If I select the credit card from the 'Pay A Company' option, the payment destination is listed in my payment destination list as the name of the card plus the card number, sort code & account number. I am not able to enter a destination alias, e.g. 'Paul Santander CC'. I have several similar payment destinations set up where both myself, my Wife & my Father have cards/accounts with the same companies, it makes life very difficult attempting to work out which one of the very similar payment destinations I should select from the list.

    10. There appears to be no way to remove payment destinations set up previously. If no longer have an account with bank X then there is no way of being able to remove it from the list of destinations.

    11. If I wish to make a payment to my First Direct Credit Card from my First Direct Current Account, there appears to be no easy way of making a transfer other than setting up the Credit Card as a new Payment Destination and scheduling a payment. I had wrongly assumed that the 'Make Payment' option on the 'My Accounts' page next to my credit card would allow this - but it appears to only allow payments to be made FROM the card to my 1st Account. However - there was no similar option in my 1st Account to make a payment TO the credit card - I had to set up the payment manually myself. After I had scheduled the payment, I expected it to disappear from my 1st Account instantly and appear in my Credit Card account moments later - it didn't - it only appeared the following day!
    Mortgage Feb 2001 - 129,000
    Mortgage July 2007 - 0
    Original Mortgage Termination Date - Nov 2018
    Mortgage Interest saved - 63790.60
    ISA Profit since Jan 1st 2015 - 69.6% (updated 17 May 2018)
    Save 12K in 2018 Challenger #111 - 10,531.31/20,000 (updated 31 December 2018)
    • VfM4meplse
    • By VfM4meplse 23rd Feb 12, 12:48 PM
    • 30,856 Posts
    • 64,582 Thanks
    VfM4meplse
    I've been a FD customer for over 15 years and couldn't be happier with the service. The staff are empowered to use their common sense which makes a massive difference, and really go the extra mile to keep you happy as a customer.
    Value-for-money-for-me-puhleeze!

    "No man is worth, crawling on the earth"- adapted from Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio

    Hope is not a strategy ...A child is for life, not just 18 years....Don't get me started on the NHS, because you won't win...I love chaz-ing!
  • dundeesherriff
    I'm not a First Direct customer, I don't have to be as I've been banking with their parent company, Midland and then HSBC ever since 1969 and have had nothing but first class service. I recently had to deal with Nat West, Barclays and Nationwide to sort out my fathers estate following his death, what a nightmare,contradictory advice and instructions and no one owning the problem.
    • seriousDFW
    • By seriousDFW 23rd Feb 12, 7:33 PM
    • 394 Posts
    • 1,095 Thanks
    seriousDFW
    I've been with fd for just under a year and have been very happy with the products and service. Their phone service is literally the best customer service telephone service of ANY company I have ever contacted. It is the only company that I don't dread ringing because of the stupid automated menus and having to input/give my details several times.

    I don't mind if the rapport-building is only to boost sales. I expect that from a business, but they still offer a first class service and I have been very happy with the products too.
    DFBX2013: 021 seriousDFW 0 3,374 100% Paid off
    Proud to have dealt with my debts.
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