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First Direct apologises for poor customer service

Written by: Emma Lunn
The HSBC-subsidiary has emailed customers to say sorry for longer call wait times than usual.

First Direct routinely tops the tables for customer service, but it has admitted it doesn’t currently have enough call centre staff to meet demand.

An email to customers from First Direct CEO Chris Pitt said: “If you’ve tried to call us recently, you may have noticed our call wait times have been longer than what you’d usually expect. I’d like to offer my sincere apologies if you’ve not received the level of service you would normally expect from First Direct.

“I know how frustrating it is when you need to speak to us and can’t get through straight away, and I really appreciate how understanding you have been once you do get to speak to us.”

The email explained that over the course of the past year, more First Direct customers banked online and less called the bank on the phone. But recently, it has seen the number of calls increasing which has created additional pressure on the bank’s team and seen call wait times start to increase.

First Direct said it was hiring and training more people to meet demand – but that this wasn’t a quick fix to the current call wait times.

The email suggests First Direct customers use the bank’s digital services where they can, so bank staff can focus on vulnerable customers who rely solely on the phone to do their banking.

The email said: “In the last few years, we’ve been rapidly introducing new features into our mobile app and online banking, with lots of your everyday banking needs now able to be done quickly and securely online or using the app. It’s easy to check your transactions, make payments, move money, change your address, or even freeze or unfreeze your card online.”

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