The customer is never at fault, but who is listening?

The Citibank branch near my house shut down and I wasn’t informed!! Not that I could have done anything but as a courtesy they should have for the brand they are. Any ways Hong Kong is transient so be it HSBC or CITI or salon or PARK n SHOP or even schools you have to move to affordable places.

So one day when I was pressed for money and I needed to find the ATM. Citibank HK has collaborated with JETCO and I had seen the boards at many banks in my lane so I rushed into one of them. Bank of China – I entered the card in the slot and get a bilingual screen saying the ‘processing’. The next second to my horror the interface was in Chinese. Can you imagine that?? There was a cleaner in the room and obviously both of us couldn’t understand each other!!! My heart sunk it was one of those moments when you are so numb but you still act with a reflex (thankfully).

Luckily for me the bank representative arrived, she told me that for the English interface I have make an application to the bank to change the language setting! I was like ‘Thank you very much but my card is in the damned machine can you help me please’ with the most precious twinkle in my eyes. She agreed and my ordeal was accomplished.

This was Bank of China so I thought it was justified for the ATMs to have Chinese interface. I got my money so I was less inclined to investigate further and also my next challenge was waiting for me – to find a taxi!

Then after somedays I was again in the same situation but I thought of trying a different bank – Bank of East Asia. This was a standalone ATM. There was a lady already at the kiosk, probably she was taking a log time so the man ahead of me left muttering something to himself. I felt luck that I was the next in line. Very confidently I entered the card, was happy to see the English processing screen but then again it was the Chinese interface! I got a jolt the same one when you get when you think you are lucky and but in the guise erring the second time! Precisely WTF moment. I turned around to see if there was any angel behind me but I was alone. Now I was truly in deeper mess.

I told myself, not to panic. I am the customer and I can never be at fault! And to my surprise I managed to use the ATM by my own self. Don’t know whom should I thank first my muscle memory, my grey cells or the guiding angles! I was triumphant and now I have the confidence / audacity to use such machines again.

There are many learnings in this story for me as the user, for the bank as the brand, for any UX designer who is sensitive towards such everyday frictions.

Certainly, such scenarios can be avoided but what is the learning when the user has hacked the systems and his triumph is more important than the ideal experience?

BTW, more recently I have found a button for language change … thanks to my son

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