Glove Box Theft and the Bank Brand UX

How the Big Banks Perform in a Crisis – Brand UX

Lost. Opportunity – Brand UX? Last week my wallet was stolen. Firstly, can I suggest you do everything you can to avoid a similar occurrence.

Secondly, it is quite a task making a 9am business meeting shortly after realizing you don’t have your wallet.

You see, aside from cash and cards, you lose your transport card as well as your driver’s license.

However, always the optimist to discover the ‘glass half full’ – it did give me a unique insight into the service levels of a number of major brands and my Brand UX (User eXperience). Namely those providers of my numerous credit and debit cards.

But first……how did I allow this to happen to me?

It seems I inadvertently left my wallet in my car overnight and the following morning when I went to take my son to school we noticed the glovebox open.

Now at this point, I should say I didn’t realise the ‘connection’ between an opened glove box and a missing wallet. In fact at that stage I hadn’t even realised I was sans wallet until I received an SMS from St George Bank.
The SMS asked me if I had made a transaction at a destination and overnight which was not my usual habit.

So then, as I realized my wallet, cards and cash had disappeared the penny literally dropped.

What was I to do next, and in what order, and OMG I have that 9am presentation on the other side of town!

In my wallet I had the following cards: American Express credit, Citibank credit, St George debit, ANZ debit plus my Medicare card, Opal transport card and License.
First things first (after raging at the fact I had been so stupid to leave my car unlocked and an open invitation to those sort of people who prefer to make a living out ruining other people’s lives), the cards were paramount as the St George phone call had alerted me to the fact that MY cards were being used by others for nefarious means.

I realized of course that I had to immediately cancel my cards.

And that’s where the fun and my marketing observations began.

What I noticed about my interactions with the four card companies was that they each adopted very different approaches to their customer/cardholders.

My first call was to Citibank and to talk with just one person (in hindsight) was a great customer experience. Citibank were able to validate that I was ‘the real me’ by sending an SMS to my mobile (thankfully not also left in the car) and by me simply repeating the number back to them.

They then cancelled the card, offered a 5-day turnaround for a replacement card which I requested to be quicker than 5 days but…..overall, so far so good.

A rapid phone call to humbly (and embarrassingly) apologise to my 9am Clients that I would be unable to attend aforesaid meeting due to my wallet being stolen (no time to explain that I now firmly recommend locking car before entering home).

“Eany, meany, miny, mo”! American Express was next on my list. Ring, ring. “American Express Lost Cards Good Morning” (No, it was NOT).

The Amex voice on the line explained I was required to speak to a first person who would hand me on to a fraud team member. I then had to wait on line, on hold (beautiful music can be so irritating when one is grinding one’s teeth).

Finally, a recorded prompt to interrupt the agonizing on-hold music; “Please enter your lost card number”

Which of course I did not have!

But once I navigated this hurdle I was fine, although the interminable wait did take valuable time. When I did get transferred to the fraud department they had all my details at hand. Card cancelled, new card to be issued.

“Two out 4 ain’t bad” I’m thinking to myself at this stage.

Next? The dragon. At St George I also had to speak to two people. Although the first very understanding of my situation, the experience was almost calming for someone with steam exiting his ears!

“Yes I understand thanks very much” that I needed to be validated but was then advised I had to transfer to another department. This is where higher frustration began to set in. Apart from a wait I had to go through a further (yet the same) validation process.

Very frustrating, given it was this very department who initially alerted me to the fraud. I also found the person to be rather laid back and with no sense of urgency (my problem, not his obviously).

Card cancelled and new card to be issued.

“Tick, tick, tick. Three down, just one to go”.

That left just ANZ. Pleasantly I can say this was the easiest, smoothest and fastest process of all 4 brands. One connection. One live person that other end. One call was all it took to gather my details, vouch for them and I was done!

So, from a Brand point of view let me line-up the 4 banks a little like they’re at the starting line and about to go head-to-head in a dash for customer satisfaction winnings.

My first interaction with all 4 was generally OK (apart from St George), but all four need to realise their Brand experience extends across all touch-points (and especially when you need them most ie; in an emergency). and across time and what happened next was extremely frustrating.

So, now let’s see what transpired at the finish line of my metaphorical Brand UX race.

Firstly, St George sent me my new card within a week (as promised) and I was done. Thanks you St. George.

However, both Citibank and American Express followed up the next day with messages.

Citibank’s message was simply to inform me they had dispatched a new card. This was welcome news, but still took 5 minutes of my precious time to go through the same authentication process as the day before for them to advise that the card was on its way.

American Express however were very frustrating as they required me to call them back 5 times, before they finally could authenticate the real ‘me’.

Interestingly (as it transpired) they had actually lost my card records in their system, each time placing me on hold so they could try and locate my card, however not once asking me for information I had which could have sped up the process.

Finally, they called to advise that they had managed to locate my records, and the call was to tell me that my card had been sent!

So as they crossed the ‘Finish Line’ I had St. George firmly the winner with a dead-heat for 2nd, 3rd and 4th between all others.

Lastly of course, I also had to have my driver licence renewed at the Road Motor Service. I was dreading this based on past experience. However, it was by far the best of all, highly automated with just the right amount of human intervention, and within 5 minutes of walking into the branch (which was open early for customer convenience) I had my replacement driving licence.

So who would have thought that our customer caring banks could be ‘out-serviced’ by a public service?

If my metaphorical race for customer satisfaction was recalled, the Public Service would win over the big banks in a canter.

Lessons learned?

1. Don’t leave your wallet in an unlocked car overnight (“I know, I know”).
2. Make a copy of your credit card numbers recorded and in safe keeping
3. Brand experience does not just start and stop when you become a customer. It extends through and across all touch-points. The brand must maintain its integrity throughout the lifetime of the customer.
4. Don’t knock the public service, they were their when I needed them.


BrandQuest is a strategy and brand management consultancy that intrinsically believes that great brands are born of the founders and staff who work there. They are not the result of an outsourced creative endeavour but the cumulative knowledge that a company possesses.

Since 2007, BrandQuest has developed a process that within a 3 week time frame can extract and refine this inner knowledge into a powerful brand strategy.

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