Something is very wrong with Starling customer service

Having had a few interactions with Starling CS of late, and having observed some similarities with the way others have described their own interactions with Starling CS. I have come to the conclusion that Starling’s Customer Services dept are either so overworked that they are concerned by performance indicators over outcomes, their training is lacking, or that their CS operation is being run with somebody at odds with the values the bank projects outwards.

’Continue the conversation’ has become ‘shutdown the conversation’.

Message threads seem to be constructed in such a way as to make you go away and stop bothering them.

Thanks for the feedback may be the response - but even when asked they won’t tell you what happens to that feedback.

‘we appreciate that this isn’t the answer you’d hoped for’ is an often seen refrain, followed by words that amount to ‘but tough’.

If you complain about their actions, your first reply after that will tell you that this is a final response and that further messages should be directed to the ombudsman - even when they haven’t taken the time to read your complaint, and have given their response about something different to what you was complaining about.

And that’s when they reply at all.

Earlier this month, I added a comment to one I had sent them in August. They didn’t reply to the one in August, and I have just seen that instead of replying to this one, the conversation has been marked ‘ended’.

Computer says no
Good customer service happens when the outcome of any interaction is held in mind.
All too quickly with Starling right now, when computer says no, they’re done.
It’s too much effort to speak to somebody else who is knowledgeable about the issue, too much effort to refer any problem to be fixed, just too much effort in general. “Sod the outcome, there are tickets mounting up, helping your non-standard problem isn’t going to help me reach my targets.”

I can’t won’t tell you why
Telling a customer that they can’t provide information about a decision they have made is a very efficient tool in getting rid of someone, for Starling CS. We see it very often.
Yes, there are a select few occasions when they actually can’t tell you something. These relate to tipping off potential criminals when something has been flagged up.
Starling are currently using this line for a variety of reasons. We have seen it come up recently to hide screw-ups over business loans and broken systems that set-up mobile wallets.

The bank that lies
But of a continuation of the above really. Banks should not be in the business of lying to their customers. Period.
For starling CS right now, it’s becoming just another tool in the box when you want to get through that pile of mounting tickets.

Where’s the security?
During last year, I took a call in relation to a matter which had turned into a complaint.

He identified himself as (name) from your bank.

This, to me, screamed ‘scam’ and I very nearly hung up on him. I didn’t think for one second that Starling would be dumb enough to train it’s staff to identify themselves in such an unprofessional way.

He was at home, yet seemingly had full access to all my account details.

I appreciate this was in the middle of a pandemic - but this didn’t feel particularly secure.

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I can’t comment on the rest of the things as I haven’t had a need to contact them, but just wanted to touch on the last part -

Starling isn’t alone with this. Land Registry, HMRC and some utility companies are a few organisations I’ve had contact with, both of which are working from home and had full access to everything. It’s just the nature of things at the moment.

I’m sure in the background they’ve got VPNs to securely access these types of things, otherwise it would likely upset the FCA or ICO (or at least, I’d hope)

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The VPN is what makes it happen. Its what ‘digs a tunnel’ into Starlings corporate network.

I don’t doubt that that tunnel is secure - but is my information being accessed in a secure location?

Have they put anything in place to safeguard my data? I simple screenshot or camera phone could put them in conflict with the ICO, should anyone they hire turn out to be a ‘wrong-un’.

Anyhow - it’s more the practices of the team I’m taking issue with here.

Payment processors are also working from home. Same considerations.

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Well, ‘others doing it’ has never been regarded to be a particularly strong defence… If Joe Bloggs sat in his lounge was taking pics of your details and posting them online/selling them to crooks, the bank/organisation/authority/whatever would still be in a hole.

But to re-affirm, I started this thread to comment on how Starling’s CS operation is running these days… not what tech they have been provided with.

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I asked Starling customer services a question last week. It was about whether I could remove an existing payee reference as it will never be used again (it’s a credit card number and the card number has changed).

It took them 24 hours to get back to me, which is fine as it wasn’t urgent. It seems my enquiry was treated as “feedback” as the subject line was “feedback” and started “thanks for your feedback” and then went on to say that it wasn’t a current feature but they’ve taken it on board but they can’t do everything all customers ask for (or words to the effect).

I mean… fair enough, but I was disappointed with the tone as it was clearly a standard reply and I wasn’t submitting feedback.

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Tallies with my experience.

Just looks like there aren’t enough people to deal with the number of tickets from a rising customer base… So they are being rushed through and to hell with the customer experience.

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Why the disappointment? You asked if you could do something, they replied to the effect that, although you can’t do it, they acknowledge the issue exists, and that it may, or may not, change.

That’s pretty much the reply I’d expect.

I recently sent a message to them reporting a bug, taking the time to explain it in great detail, and 24 hours later received an automated ‘thanks for your feedback’ reply, about how they would ‘consider my feature request’! I responded and explained that I was reporting a bug, not requesting a feature, and another 24 hours later someone replied saying ‘thank you for reporting a bug,’ with absolutely no acknowledgement of the erroneous response I had originally received.

The overall experience seems incredibly inhuman, like if they can possibly send you on your way with an automated response to avoid a person actually having to deal with you, they will - even if the response isn’t at all relevant!

When I first joined Starling I was really impressed with the speediness and friendliness of the customer service dept, but now they’re proving themselves significantly worse than my legacy banks (NatWest’s live Webchat is seriously amazing, I get connected in about 30 seconds and they actually reply to chat messages instantly).

When it’s a bug report or something else fairly trivial you’re getting in contact with them for, then these inconveniences are mildly frustrating… but it does make me worry about the situation I’d be in if I was the victim of serious fraud and I urgently needed help. I’m always mindful of the thread on here where a user describes his absolute nightmare of trying to recover funds fraudulently taken from his Starling account, and the month long process he had to endure while high st banks tend to reimburse victims within 24 hours. As the traditional banks catch up tech-wise, and the quality of the neobanks’ customer service seems to be ever decreasing, I find myself more and more drawn to returning to being a user of the high st banks exclusively.

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A recent fraudulent Amazon transaction on my RBS account was eventually sorted out pretty quickly, well, same day to be honest. Refunded by RBS, card cancelled and new one sent out. RBS Customer service was actually pretty bloody good if I’m completely honest. Plus I won’t lie, if RBS actually had the full fintech capability of Starling, as much as I absolutely enjoy being a Starling Bank customer, I’d fully switch to RBS in a heartbeat.

So, if there are any Starling Bank staff reading this, take note of what your customers are reporting here and pull your fingers out and sort the CS issues. It would be an absolute shame for you to lose customers just because you give the impression to some that you can’t be arsed with customer service.

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I always wonder why RBS end up right at the bottom of the customer service surveys each year. In my experience with NatWest Group, their webchat service is great and if I ever have to speak to them by phone (god forbid!), I’m always connected to a friendly person in Scotland, not India - cough cough HSBC.

Maybe it’s their lack of branches in England that drags their score down?

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That’s the problem with Lloyds too, connected to a CS rep in India on the occasions I have had to call them in the past. Not in any way a more personal touch in my honest opinion and this is where RBS wins, connected to a UK based call centre with staff who you can actually relate to. I really don’t enjoy at all being connected to someone thousands of miles away.

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I completely understand that. With HSBC, I’ve actually encountered a language barrier on a fair few occasions - and when you’re dealing with something as sensitive as banking, that’s far from ideal.

It would be good to have a list of which banks offer UK customer service as standard. NatWest Group seem to exclusively use UK call centres, but I’m pretty sure they outsource to India for chat. I think HSBC Advance and Premier customers are connected to British call centres, but standard ‘Bank Account’ and ‘Student Account’ customers are certainly sent overseas.

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Same here. It just becomes embarrassing if I’m honest. Asking a Customer Services advisor to repeat themselves because their accent is so strong, isn’t helpful. I had this with an Amazon CS guy when I had that fraudulent transaction go out of my RBS account. He could understand me no problem, the problem was me understanding him.

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Lloyds Bank don’t have any India call centres as far as I am aware and moved them back to the UK in 2007/8.

Well if that is indeed the case, then the CS rep with whom I spoke to just a few months back who by my own reckoning of accent recognition was most definitely of Indian background, was so difficult for me to comprehend, it just frustrated my efforts to understand what it was he was trying to convey. Not an experience I wish to repeat.

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There is no doubt that the ability to communicate well with a wide range of people is important for any CS rep. That would be equally true for anyone with a strong accent wherever they are from. The same must be true for the CS rep. who may not understand the customer and they probably complain about some of us customers too :slight_smile:

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I agree. I have a totally neutral English accent and yet I’ve still had Americans stand in front of me seemingly finding it difficult to understand what I’m saying :rofl:

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Ok. I may regret this, but can you be more specific…? :slightly_smiling_face:

(Because I reckon I’ve got one of those…)

That’s more about them than you.