Are Credit Card Companies Really Ready for Mobile?

Posted by James MacMillan,
Vice President, Business Development, HGS Canada

Last week, while paying for a taxi ride to the airport, I realized I’d misplaced my credit card. I was 60 minutes from boarding a plan and all the usual thoughts raced through my head.

Where did I last use it?

What if someone is using it on a shopping spree?

Do I have enough credit on another card to cover my travel expenses? 

Image removed.Not having access to a computer at the time, I did what most of us do. I used my trusty mobile banking app.  That’s when I realized that while the app is great for looking at account balances and paying bills, it’s not so great for providing customer service. After fumbling through the tiny menus on the app, I found the contact number for credit card support and tapped on it. Nothing. Tapped again…still nothing.  Flipping from app to phone a couple of times, I managed to enter the correct 11-digit customer service number and reached the IVR menu.


An automated voice said, “Please enter your credit card number.”

I had no idea. Back to the mobile app, maybe it’s in there. Whoops, I disconnected the phone. I called back and finally made it through the IVR.

The automated voice said, “Due to unusually high call volumes, expected wait times are between 5 and 20 minutes.”

I was happy they could pinpoint my wait time with such accuracy…not! After 20 minutes, the airline announced the last call to board my plane, forcing me to abandon my quest for customer service.  I called the bank back when I arrived at my destination. Same process, same “unusually high call volume message.”

After being on hold for 30 minutes, an actual voice finally said, “How can I be of assistance?”

“I’ve lost my credit card,” I said. “But we need to make this quick, I’m running out of battery power on my phone.”

After verifying my credentials, the nice agent told me he’d need to transfer me to another department to cancel my card. I waited on hold another 10 minutes before my phone died. I was defeated. Well, at least they’ve captured my call and will surely call me back because this is important to the bank…right? Won’t they have some liability risk if a credit card is being fraudulently used? Surprisingly, no one called back.

I used the “Contact Us Via Email” option on the website and received an email reply stating, “Due to unusually high volumes, your email will be responded to in five to ten business days.”

The following day I was able to reach an agent, who had no record of my previous calls or email but was finally able to cancel the card.

Coincidently, a new card that I’d received from another bank prior to my trip did not work when I used it. I called the number on the back of that card, was connected to a real voice in minutes and resolved the problem in the time it took me to fumble around the other bank’s mobile app.

Does this sound familiar? Having spent years developing customer service solutions for large corporations and being a part of the HGS team, I was stunned at how disconnected my first bank was with the reality of the mobile world.

Some of the simple solutions we use at HGS include:

  • Mobile app enhancement, which begins with mapping the customer service journey and working backwards from solution to initial request.
  • Automated callback solutions, in which customers have the option of hanging up while maintaining their priority in the queue. Once their position in the queue is reached, they receive a call back from a customer service rep. Aside from the obvious benefits, this is especially great when your customer’s mobile phone charge is low, not to mention the possible network charges your customer could incur from waiting for a lengthy period of time on a mobile device.
  • Mobile app connect, which allows you to submit your issue via the app for placement in the priority queue. Again, a customer service rep will call you back within the time you would have been on hold.
  • Robotic process automation that enables a customer service rep to access disparate systems so customers can be supported without being transferred to another department or being put on hold while the rep logs into another system.

Providing mobile service means more than just developing an app. It means understanding the limitations of mobile devices as well as situational, useability, and time constraints. Only then can companies effectively use technology to speedily resolve issues customers may encounter while on the go.