11th March 2014
Nationwide Building Society today moved to freephone for its main customer services numbers as it pledges to switch to 0800 across all of its telephone services – benefitting millions of customers.
The move will ensure that when new Ofcom rules come into effect in June next year to make 0800 free to call from mobile phones as well as landlines, Nationwide will offer free calls for its customers, regardless of how they choose to get in touch.
Nationwide’s main customer service number has been refreshed, changing today from 08457 30 20 10 to 0800 30 20 11. It accounts for around 7.2 million calls per year, providing services including lost and stolen cards, current accounts, internet banking, savings, mortgages and insurance. Other phone numbers to have been changed are those for personal loans enquiries (0800 545 3000), the Flex Plus help line (0800 11 88 55) and Flex Direct service line (0800 357 357). These, along with the main customer service number, account for the majority of calls to Nationwide.
Nationwide, which receives no profit margin on the calls it receives, will also provide an 0800 and 0345 complaints number by April, meaning that in addition to free landline calls, mobile phone users will be able to include calls within their inclusive minutes. This is ahead of the FCA requirement coming into effect this June.
Jenny Groves, Nationwide’s director of customer experience, said: “We’re pleased to announce that Nationwide is working towards free calls for all of our 15 million customers. While we do not make any margin on calls, we recognise the benefits that this will bring, particularly on those lines most frequently used. We also offer our customers extensive online facilities for managing their accounts, including mobile banking, a free app and a secure online messaging service.”
Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director said: “It’s great news that our biggest building society is joining the growing list of providers moving to freephone or basic rate numbers. Nationwide is doing the right thing by its customers by dropping 0845 numbers.
“The Financial Conduct Authority must act now to put an end to costly calls across financial services, but in the meantime there’s really no excuse for other providers not to follow Nationwide’s example.”
Nationwide also says it has become the first high street financial services provider to offer its customers 24/7 Twitter coverage, answering their questions and queries, as well as providing them with customer service information and support, any time of day or night.
Customer service is one of the fastest growing uses of social media, but with @AskNationwide, Nationwide says it is one of only a handful of businesses in the UK manning its Twitter presence 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Tony Prestedge, Nationwide’s chief operating officer, says: “In the short time that businesses have been using social media, Twitter has quickly become the channel of choice for customers who want to talk to companies, whether it is to ask questions or share their opinions. Yet so many organisations are either not using Twitter properly or see it as a poor relation to traditional channels such as the phone. At Nationwide we have embraced Twitter and are using it as an integral part of our customer service and support strategy.”