For the last six weeks I’ve been working as an undercover agent – posing as a new customer for Kiwibank – New Zealand’s big little bank.

Secret Spy Profile

Having been a customer of several other banks in previous occupations, at first I found this assignment a cinch. The undercover role was surprisingly similar to my own life – that of a 30-something year old male, with a mortgage, two kids and an overdrawn credit-card with a crippling interest rate of over 19%. I also happened to like the colour green – so this assignment was right up my alley.

My Mission

Short Term Goals

  • To experience Kiwibank customer service
  • To reduce my credit card interest rate
  • To transfer my credit card to Kiwibank

Long Term Goals

  • Transition to becoming a full Kiwibank customer
  • To move over all my accounts over to Kiwibank
  • To transfer my home loan to Kiwibank

WEEK ONE

To get familiar with what I’d be up against I investigated Kiwibanks mortal enemies.

The one in blue seemed harmless, but the one in black was enthralling with tempting offers and upfront attitude. I admit, I nearly turned to the dark side. But NO. I remembered my mission, my undercover persona – and I like green – stay with the green…

To ensure my cover wouldn’t be blown I trailed the web network to access the bank’s online application for credit card transfers.

It was all too easy – the electronic door was wide open – I was in!

15 minutes later my application was complete… Now I just had to sit back and wait for the card to arrive in the mail.

WEEK TWO

Anxiously and with some excitement I checked my letter box daily.

By week’s end – still nothing. Were they onto me already?

WEEK THREE

At last! A letter!

Using my special polypropylene gloves I opened the letter to reveal a request for information… it went something like this:

To be able to continue with your application we need some more information from you. Please provide us with the following:

Bank statements no older than 3 mths showing wages/salary going into account.

kbank  

Ah, tricksters! They are testing me right? OK – I can play their game.

Doning a convincing customer persona I visited Kiwibank in Manners Mall, Wellington, clutching my bank statement   no older than 3 mths showing wages/salary going into account.

There’s a long queue of people and signs everywhere saying “postal transactions only”.

Eventually I approach the lonely counter with a Kiwibank logo. A grumpy face greets me as I hand over the bank’s letter and my bank statement.

“What’s this for?”

“It’s explained in the letter – the bank has asked for bank statements no older than 3 mths showing wages/salary going into my account”.

The customer service looks confused.

“We don’t deal with these here”.

“Oh?” I reply. “Where am I supposed to take it?”.

“…I suppose I’ll have to send it away”.

I ask if they can photocopy my bank statement. Grudgingly the face of customer service goes out the back while irritated looking customers queue up behind me.

WEEK FOUR

Anxiously and with some excitement I checked my letter box daily.

WEEK FIVE

At last! A letter!

Using my special polypropylene gloves I opened the letter to reveal another request for information… it went something like this:

To be able to continue with your application we need some more information from you. Please provide us with the following:

Bank statements no older than 3 mths showing wages/salary going into account.

Ah, tricksters!

They are really are testing me right? (or trying to get rid of me…?)

I’m feeling the pressure now.

I ring the bank… it went something like this:

“Our normal business hours are Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm”

So, I email the bank…

A few days later I get a phone call.

“It says here that you need to provide us with the following – bank statements no older than 3 mths showing wages/salary going into account”.

“I’ve already done this – I took it to the Manner Street branch two weeks ago”

“Oh – it’s not showing up here…”

“Kiwibank took a photocopy of my account statements”

“Oh – actually, it says here that we DID get them …but that we need further information…”

“What information do you need?”

“It says here that you need to provide us with bank statements no older than 3 mths showing wages/salary going into account”.

“But I’ve already done this”

“Can you do it again?”

“Actually, I’d rather not, I’m very busy and besides, you ALREADY have a copy of my bank statements no older than 3 months showing wages/salary going into my account”

“Oh – OK… I’ll tell them we already have it”

WEEK SIX

Anxiously and with some excitement I checked my letter box daily…

I phone Kiwibank during normal business, Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm.

“It says here that you need to   provide us with the following – bank statements no older than 3 mths showing wages/salary going into account”.

“I’ve already done this – I took it to the Manner Street branch several weeks ago”

“It says here that we did get them but that we need further information…”

“What information do you need?”

“It says here that you need to   provide us with bank statements no older than 3 mths showing wages/salary going into account”.

“But I’ve already done this!”

“Can you do it again?”

“OK OK! I don’t see the point since you ALREADY HAVE WHAT YOU ASKED FOR – but I’ll do it AGAIN”

YESTERDAY

Doning a convincing customer persona I visit a Kiwibank in Panama Street, Wellington, clutching my bank statement   no older than 3 mths showing wages/salary going into account, AS PER THE INSTRUCTIONS IN THE LETTER.

I hand over the bank’s letter and my bank statement.

“What’s this for?”.

“It’s in the letter – the bank has asked for bank statements no older than 3 mths showing wages/salary going into account”.

“I’ll have to send it away”.

Ah, that old trick. I ask if they can photocopy my bank statement. Irritated looking customers queue up behind me.

Customer Service returns.

“Now, I’m not sure if the bank will accept this”.

“Why?”

“Well, although the bank HAS asked for bank statements no older than 3 mths showing wages/salary going into account… …this is a JOINT account. We need an account with JUST your name on it.”

I’m thrown – they’ve got me this time.

“So what am I supposed to do, close my
joint account and open a new account then get my wages put into it?”

“I’ll ring the bank…”

On hold for at least five minutes (this is the bank calling themselves!). Irritated looking customers queue up behind me and are almost spilling onto the street.

“We need an account with just your name on it. You need to prove these are your wages, even though these wages are going into your account. Problem is, it’s a joint account”.

Dumbfounded silence and fuming.

“Is there anything else I can provide? Like a wages slip or something?”

Customer Service consults Customer Service on the phone.

“Yes, they’ll take a wages slip – so long as it has your name on it. Can you bring this in?”.

Yes, but…

By now they’d broken me – they win – I quit!

I QUIT! YOU WIN!

Flabbergasted I wove past the irritated looking customers who had queued up behind me and were spilling onto the street.

Back at the secret hideaway I pondered my past few weeks of the Kiwibank customer experience – and then it dawned on me – I had cracked it! The Kiwibank secret formula for CRM (Customer Relationship Management)!

And here it is, in public, for the first time:

crm

Comments (5)

  1. DANIEL

    I find it hard to belive that you had to go through such a difficult time applying for your Kiwibank Credit Card. I am a dedicated employee of Kiwibank and stand by it’s E.A.S.I process. I would like to take this further and make an attempt to understand why you may have gone through such a "test" as you called it and investigate the events in processing your credit card application. I have taken a few details from the website and will be in touch with the author of this investigation.

  2. ZEF

    Since this post (in 2006) Kiwibank contacted me, acknowledged the issue and said they would review their process.

    See the followup post here:
    http://www.zefamedia.co.nz/blog/2006/9/19/bankdirect-vs-kiwibank.html

    Recently (in 2008) I’ve also had the opportunity to work with the bank and I’ve been greatly impressed by the attitude of the company and their renewed focus on the customer experience.

    So treat my post as a bit of history and a lesson which I hope helped make Kiwibank even better!

  3. HANNAH

    I had a very similar experience with Kiwibank. I filled in all their forms online and then recieved a letter asking for all the extra neccessary paperwork including statements and photo ID which needed to be confirmed by a Kiwibank employee. On going to my closest branch I was told they only deal with loans and not credit card applications, so I left with the paper work in my hands and called Kiwibank to ask what was going on. They were very good over the phone and just told me to post it into them. I then recieved another letter asking for the same information I had already given them and on calling them they confirmed that they had receiebd it and told me to forget the letter, and then after all that my application was declined because I had gone over my other banks credit card limit by a few dollars whereby giving me a bad credit rating.

  4. ROY MCLELLAN

    I believe they have become complacent with their success.Kiwibank staff in some instances do not know their job as fully as a customer would expect and desire.It is a nuisance when you have to tell counter staff that they are in error and they go to management to find that the customer is indeed right.

    Anyway thanks to their coming into being other banks have now got their acts together and are competitive removing the need for "the peoples bank" and it’s crippling fees which appear on the statement requiring the phone call to have them explained.Nowadays I feel it is no better with it’s fees than the bank I originally left to join them.In fact the old bank is now very competitive with Kiwibank and is looking to be a very desirable alternative.

    The only thing attractrive about kiwibank is the number of branches but it is a damn nuisance having to being told you have to make an appointment to see a banking "expert".

  5. PETE

    I too have had similar experienes with not just credit cards but home loans. The mobile Manager saw me quickly however I had to wait nearly a week to get an answer on my loan when competitors could do it same day or next day. it appears these Mobile Managers dont have the approval abilities of other banks and are managers in name only. The Manager was embarassed about the delay, apologetic but it appeared others at Kiwibank didn’t view my application as anything other than an inconvenience.
    When my loan was finally approved they didn’t issue me with a credit card (they had lost my prior credit application by the way) despite the manager requesting one on the same form as the home loan.
    The final straw came I wasn’t called about mortgage insurance and I had requested cover.
    Overall an unpleasant experience.

Comments are closed.