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Leaving customers digitally high and dry … big mistake

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I’ve recently seen two blogs about issues with challenger banks N26 and Tandem. They both relate to the ways in which these new banks communicate, or not in these cases.

Judith Bogner, a well-known and followed broadcaster, explains regarding N26 and the fact that her husband was locked out of his account and so he called the bank:

It goes through to the automated reply that has replaced customer service. What good is that if you’re concerned about fraud?  The automated voice wants you to reach out to customer service via chat. To find the chat button within the N26 app is easy. But when you’re locked out of the app you have to search up and down the N26 website .... until you find the chat button in the section "Opening an account".

At the time of writing my husband has undertaken about 40 chats over 6 days with several customer service agents in 2 languages. Some are more capable than others (one actually said they couldn’t find his account). The chats end with agent(s) referring to an email sent on March 18 and that there’s nothing else they could do. Then the agent(s) shut down the chat.

The problem is: My husband never received that email.

Similarly Adam Williams, a columnist for The Daily Telegraph, explains his issue with Tandem:

My card stopped working, repeatedly. When it failed the day before I was due to go on holiday, I lost patience … [several months later] it transpired that my card had been flagged as being at risk of fraud after it was used at a suspect cash machine – not that Tandem had informed me of this at the time. Then, once a replacement card had been issued, Tandem mistakenly blocked the new one as well.

Both articles reminded me of my own frustrations when things don’t work. Switching broadband and mobile providers; moving house; trying to use online and offline payments which are blocked; trying to order IKEA furniture on their website; and more.

In all instances, it’s process. In this age of self-service, I love it when things work. I serve myself. But sometimes they don’t work. You booked the flight for the wrong time; the hotel room you just reserved is on wrong dates; the click from Google search to website changed the details without you knowing; the auction you just bid on was not the item you meant to buy; and so on.

In fact, there are numerous times when apps and online services just don’t work as they should or are plain daft. In those instances, who you gonna call?

And there’s the rub. That’s the mistake that some of the challenger banks are making, as do many other services. When the customer drives themselves into a hole in the ground, how do you get them out of it?

In fact, that’s the key moment of opportunity and issue. If you are great at sorting out customers’ messes, then you win; if you leave the customer high and dry, you lose.


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Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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