Mind The Gap, Cultural Gaps Destroying Traditional Brands

I received a phone call at 11:12 a.m. no Monday, from an organization claiming to be Standard Chartered Bank, my business bank, asking some probing questions around the purpose, nature of my account. When they asked me a question of whether I used checks or not, it instantly triggered that maybe this is not Standard Chartered, mainly because I don't use checks. Anyone that knows me knows that I tend to operate only in the digital domain, unless dragged into yesteryear against my own will. The representative then asked for my passport and my identity card numbers, even proceeded to 'escalate' the process when I asked 'why?'. They line was it this was all in the matter of getting to know my business better, so they could serve me better. I didn't give up much information, but I called the Standard Chartered Small Business hotline immediately to report a potential fraud. While also doing that, I also grabbed my token. Yes, unfortunately here in Singapore, we still require tokens to check whether anything actually happened to my account. Nothing luckily.

As I was going through the call, I don't think the customer service member quite got what I asking. I first mentioned the fraud saying that I'm not near my office. Hence, I can't give my account number, I could give my card number. I can't give her my company registration number right now, but I'm trying to report a potential fraud on my company account. The reason I don't think she quite understood what I'm saying was because here her line of questions seemed peculiar, even though in the IVR I entered my identity, she asked for my identity again. Claiming she doesn't receive it and couldn't use it to find my company even though I'm listed as a director. Second to that, trying to report this fraud was near impossible. She outright refused to receive it unless I could provide an account number or a company registration number.

Now I'm not sure how many of you guys actually carry around your company registration number in your pocket or your account number. In the digital era, I don't need those, so I don't carry them with me 24/7. Actually I'd see them as risks to carry them around, so in this case I didn't actually have them with me. Luckily, luckily, luckily I actually happened to have access to my cloud storage to grab the last invoice the business had issued containing the account number. Once I gave her the account number or able to proceed with the potential fraud reporting, she flagged it on the account.

The Vasco Digipass issued to me by SCB

As a part of that process, I had also noticed that the token (the bane of my business banking life) has it's own issues. Side note, If the monetary authority here in Singapore should do just one positive thing for business banking, it would be to remove the requirement for these stupid, idiotic tokens. The one that I carry is a  VASCO Digipass issued with SCB branding. It's the worse possible device in terms of security, contextual awareness and verification. I know there's big fans out of there, or the doomsday people that say we need this stuff, but there are far better alternatives that will have more insight, more dynamic identity and significantly reduce the risk.

The screen on my token had the infamous black bleed running through it, so I actually can't read it anymore. I can't log on. I can't check that I've actually received payments. I can't make any payments. A challenge for a business dependent on digital banking.

I raise the question with SCB, how do I replace it. The response blew me away; the only way to replace a token in Singapore with Standard Chartered is to complete a form and to mail it back. Now granted the mailing system in Singapore is quite efficient, but it's still days to get done. On top of that, it would be another 10 business days until I get a replacement token. We are potentially looking at up to 15 business days that I would be without access to my company accounts, 100% digital customer. Does that sound acceptable? Am I being a whiner? Granted they still need to count for those that still operate in the analog world, I get that, but I'm 100% digital. They're completely ignoring my need for the sake of their older clients.

Anyway after multiple escalations and 45-minute call, it results in me chatting to a superior who was actually prepared to email me the form. This is now well and truly over 90 minutes since that first call started. Who knows how long it's gonna take to come out? Who knows how long it'll be so I could actually check that I've been paid, make a payment to someone else?

I don't know about you. If you're anyone out there that's actually waiting on me to pay you, you might be a little annoyed that I can't pay you right now and particularly myself. I've been waiting for inbound payments. I'm also frustrated because I don't know where my payments are coming in. Really interesting, isn't it? How is a bank that talks about "here for good", talks about global presences and an abundance of amazing marketing and PR messages, when it comes to actually banking for a small business, they completely fall over. Three escalations, forty-six minutes on a call to report a potential fraud and I could now be potentially without my banking for up to 15 business days.

I don't know about your businesses, but my business can't sustain...


Now I have to be fair to Standard Chartered, as I only bank with them today. I haven't experienced the same scenarios at other banks in the country. They all require tokens.

The Gap

Despite my frustrations with the small business operations team, I did find a shining light. The @StandChart social media picked up on the conversations over Twitter and jumped into action within hours. They got involved in the speeding up of the token, and currently have an ETA of tomorrow. So a 15 day process, was cut down to 48 hours through a little persistence. So why was the process 15 days in the first place? Why would a bank design a process that gives such a poor experience. There are dozens of simple process fixes that could have resolved this faster. Avoiding any of my frustration.

Over the past few years, brands like Standard Chartered have invested in listening and response structures that empower them to know when their brand is being talked about, and respond when necessary. But why isn't such customer centricity across the entire bank? It seems traditional businesses have a long way to go in their evolution to the modern connected economy.

Kudos to the Social Media team at Standard Chartered for their proactive intervention, and customer centric culture. As a 'token' of thanks, I have offered two days of my time to consult on fixing this broken process in the hope of fixing it for future customers. I'll let you know if SCB accept.