Thursday, June 14, 2007

God also must take a number

I tried to persuade one of our clients not to do it, but they INSISTED on opening an account with the local bank that I already have an account with. Despite 2 entire emails where I said "Don't do it! Yawl be sorry!" in some obscure obfuscated CYA legal mumbo-jumbo, they wrote back and were extremely clear that yes, we note your comments but we would still wish to open a corporate account with DBS.

So I took a deep breath and delegated the horrible nail-scraping-across-keyboard-kill-me-now task to someone else who ended up spending 1.5 hours at DBS' main branch getting the account opened. To quote the someone else - you could fly to Jakarta and back in that amount of time.

And can you beat this - even if your ass and all your identifying and supporting documents in original form are planted in front of the officer in the MAIN BRANCH of DBS, and you're holding in your hot little hands a cheque for the minimum amount, it will still take 2 whole working days to get the account number. Seriously. They have to go and slay the Godzilla and bring back its head or something before their computer can spit out a set of 10 numbers which will be the account number. All those computers and dedicated account officers in the main branch of the largest bank in Singapore, and it still takes 2 working days. Painful? Yes. But tolerable.

Then our client representative flies in from Tokyo especially to do 1 thing, and that is to change the bank signatory to himself. Presents himself at the main branch again, with identification and supporting documents in original form. How long does it take for them to change the signatory from Person A to Person B?

It takes 10 working days.

Why does it take 10 working days?

It's the Internal Procedure. Never mind that in less than 10 working days, a person can travel around the world and come back - for the 1 sheet of signatory instructions to make its way through all the correct inboxes and outboxes in DBS, it will take 10 working days. Does their account management team work underwater? Are they like deep sea divers working 10 leagues under the sea, where if they move too fast, nitrogen bubbles will form in their blood and they will die? Are the people in the account management team slow of mind?

I thought the client asked a rather pertinent question, and that was, well, here I am at the Main Branch of DBS, and you have all these computers and I have all my original documents here. Why can't you do it now?

We can't do it here at the Main Branch. It's all done through our processing side in Chai Chee. If you want things done faster, maybe you can go to Chai Chee yourself, but no promises that it can be done faster. At this point, I thought about the 4 months I waited for my internet banking token and wanted to tell the client, yes, no promises that it can be done faster.

To put things in perspective, this is a client with more than US$20 million ready for deposit into the account. They picked Singapore to set up their holding company because everyone says we are efficient. In fact we claim loud and clear to be a first class financial and banking centre. DBS is the largest bank in Singapore. We are at their Main Branch with all of the documents they need to change the signatory. What the hell did we do wrong? Why does it take 10 working days to process? How can I explain to the clients why we had to wait 1.5 hours to change the signatory, and it still cannot be done on the same day or even the day after? How can I explain to the client why with US$20 million in their account, they still have no dedicated customer service officer, and have to take a queue number at the bank just like the next guy (e.g. me) with S$2,000 in the account? Does God have to take a number too, if he wants to use DBS?

I am embarrassed and fed up. I told clients to use OCBC and they didn't. Do you know the account opening officer will come to your office to provide personalised service, I said. These people are actually interested in your business, I told them. DBS will just tell you to take a queue number and sit down.

Towards the tail end of the 1.5 hours, the client looked at me sheepishly and said, it appears we may have made a mistake choosing this bank. It was all I could do not to stand up and scream.


At 6:05 PM, Blogger Quirkz said...

LOL! This sounds too painful.. Sadly, it's hardly surprising that DBS' customer service is so bad. Usually the Biggest Players in the Industry tend to have the worst customer service, cos they're like, so big and important and all...

At 8:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't you just tell them to forget about the whole thing, sod off and go open a new account at another bank? Like OCBC?

My parents apparently were rather pleased with DBS when they opened their accounts. Then again it pays to have a relative who's pals with the branch officer and this was just some small unimportant personal account. Certainly no US$20mil.

At 4:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's MAS regulation to verify where all that money is coming from.. and MAS is so high and mighty that they only allow financial institutions to disturb them once or twice a month.

At 5:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes, DBS' customer service is really f***ed up. that's why I closed my account with them years ago.

At 11:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pple tend to associate poor customer service with long waiting time. But is good customer service justifably = short waiting time? Not neccessary so. I'm sure many of us can quote an incident where we didn't have to wait very long for service but the service turned out to be really bad.

I wouldn't outrightly defend the bank in question as i think there are always room for improvement to banking procedures. Yes corporate accounts take a longer time to process than say a normal personal savings account, even for personal accounts, there are anti-money laundering checks that MAS has required the local banks to review before committing to a relationship with say, a prospective client. Such checks have become even more stringent since the sep 11 attacks -terrorist funding. This has nothing to with how much money or little money one has in the bank account.

The front line branches often act as a first stop (mailman)for walk in customers, as there are so many depts in a bank, credit processing, corp finance, credit card centre, channel support centre, so on and soforth; much more. And often these are the depts which are processing the actual admininstrative changes to say a customer's account. The branches are simply like i said, a one stop centre.

It is indeed a challenge for many of the staff working at the branches. They are required to know everything by the customers, even more so for new staff the learning curve is tremendously steep, and many of the frontline staff, e.g teller and customer service officers are only diploma holders and below. yet they are required to know even how the other depts are operating and the necessary procedures to forward requests made by walk in customers at the branch.

As such they are often the target of customers complaints when they fail to respond promptly to customers' queries. That is why the turnover rate for mass market customer service is often very high. To the extent that some customer service businesses are hiring foreigners like philipinos or indonesians as customer service officers.

Not only are staff at the banks struggling to provide good mass market customer service. Go take a look at the cpf board at bishan on saturday morning and you'll know what i mean. Just observe the part timers in action (many of them are youths/poly/uni students working temping) observe the walk in customer's behaviour and observe how the staff handles the customer's queries and how demanding some of these questions can get.

At 1:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's not that bank wanna take that long to open a bank a/c. the bank needs to do all sorts of checks on the person opening the a/c, esp. when it's a foreigner. All the AML regulations and such..

At 1:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

and customers like to use mr tai or mr wee to scare the staff. *sigh

At 2:53 PM, Blogger Cloudywind said...

Sigh... tat's why i take the trouble to take out my salary fr my DBS acc (becos my company HAS to use a local bank) and put them into my StanChart acc EVERY month... ooh, of course i keep the min of $500 there... why let DBS make $ right?

At 9:40 PM, Blogger dlanorpi said...

Oh gosh; I opened a personal savings account (with bankbook and ATM card) in Hong Kong HSBC (local bank by their standards).

I told them that I'm in a rush (as I'm flying off in 8 days) and they did an express service for me volunteerily – issue a passbook, ATM card and all related documents signed and processed. If not for the 'express' service, the ATM card would only be mailed to the address after a week.

The ATM card worked after 24 hours and my internet banking and phone banking service are up in 2 days.

The thing is that I'm just a small fry customer whose initial deposit amounted to HK$1500 (S$300).

So, I believe it's more of a corporate mindset issue.

At 10:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

DBS is always know as Damn Bloody Slow bank.

At 10:38 PM, Blogger DK said...

But how long does other banks take? Could it be just as long? Or is it just DBS only?

At 10:45 PM, Blogger Fiery said...

Perhaps one can try and explain the bank service is slow because of things like "anti-money laundering checks", but why is it that other banks can get their act together and not put their customers through grief but not this bank?

I had it enough with them too. Cut up my credit card and shut down my saving account years back. The distinct incident I remember that did it was the time I accidentally missed my credit card payment by a day. I hurriedly called up to inform them I would settle the full sum of a couple hundred dollars immediately, and request the late charges and interest charges to be waived in return. The remark the haughty customer service girl gave me was sarcastic, "well, if you had set up GIRO for payment, you would not have had this problem."

Now I used Citibank and life is good.

At 12:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

UOB also can issue passbook and atm card/internet banking on the spot, takes less than half an hour. But nowadays, ppl seldom open passbook savings a/c, but some folks still prefer having the hard copy passbook, as a form of affirmation.

It is definitely more than a corporate mindset. For a large transcontinental bank like dbs to implement changes across the board takes time and a fair share of good planning and process implementation. but it is not impossible. For those of you who work in a huge corporation, u'll understand. Therein lies the challenge.

At 3:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't confuse personal banking and corporate banking. DBS is bad at both.

Can you imagine that you need a security token now to access your account from remote? I'm based in the US and I can't get to my account, and had my family mail the token to me. It's so annoying that I can't check the account at anytime and anywhere. You need to take the token where ever you go if you want to check on your account.

Too bad I have so many things on GIRO going out of that account, or I would have closed it already.

At 11:42 AM, Anonymous God said...

"Thou Shall Process, Pronto!"

At 11:53 AM, Blogger PanzerGrenadier said...

Just curious, did you write a complaint letter to the bank?

Anyway, I also keep minimum balances with DBS/POSB. Maybank's internet banking features and good savings rate of 1.68% for balances > $5,000 beats DBS hands-down.

Be well and prosper.

At 5:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

erm, ain't all banks having the token for internet banking? duh?!

At 10:13 AM, Anonymous Joey said...

I had several good experiences with HSBC too! The first time was when I arrived at the Dhoby Ghaut (Singapore) branch to pick up my ATM card but it was closed because(silly me!) I forgot to check its closing time online. Despite that, the officer who was completing her work for the day very kindly retrieved my ATM card from the safe and patiently explained some stuff (like how to change my PIN) to me. And I don't even keep much money in that account.

Second time was when I made a late payment (about 5 days) late and they waived the late charges upon request.

At 10:55 AM, Blogger Barffie said...

I'd very much like to cancel my POSB account (I had accounts from all 3 local banks) just because I couldn't stand the lousy attitude from the call centre officers and the LONG LONG QUEUES at the ATM. I always watch people whisk by the UOB ATM while we queue miserably at POSB...

But I couldn't cancel - why? Because Ezylink's Giro auto top up only supports POSB/DBS accounts! That sucks big time.

At 3:23 PM, Anonymous Kevin said...

I can't agree more. I hate DBS, simply hate it. I have both my corporate & personal accounts with them and I hate it. The only reason I'm still with them is all the GIRO that's linked.

One day I will just take a day off to transfer everything to OCBC. I'm starting to like OCBC more and more...nope, not a hsareholder of the bank yet, but I think I should get some shares since more of my money is going over to them.

At 6:46 PM, Blogger Pkchukiss said...

I'm a little surprised by the negativity with DBS, because as a super small-fry with just a POSB savings account, I didn't regularly deal with the bank tellers directly; with automation stuff can usually be done online or at the ATM, though the queue at the latter is really a pain.

I like them for their wide ATM network - you can use any DBS or POSB ATM to withdraw money.

At 5:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sad sad...

At 9:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am getting happier. God's showing His Fairness, Amen!

At 9:15 AM, Blogger Mark said...

For any foreigners with anything more than SGD$30K, please go to some other banks other than DBS. My personal experience with opening a DBS Corporate account was equally horrible. To describe it as frustrating is an understatement. I only did it because I had no choice, and DBS has the lowest requirements for keeping a minimal account balance. The corporate internet banking facilities are non-existent, and IDEALS is a joke.

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