Why Is Customer Service Still So Lousy (Financial Services Web Design Edition)?

A while back I set up autopayment on the Citi credit card I used for business expenses, and it’s been working fine. Recently, however, I ran up so many travel expenses in a month that I hit my credit limit (the clearest sign yet that I’ve been on the road too much). So in order to keep further charges from being declined, I went to the Citi credit cards site to make a manual payment.

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I wanted to use the same bank account for this manual payment that I use for my automatic one. But I couldn’t see how to do that, even after looking around the site for a while. The ‘MAKE A PAYMENT’ button was prominent enough, but clicking on it didn’t take me to a page where I could see and select the bank account I use for autopay. Instead, it took me to a form I’d use to enter bank account information from scratch.

This didn’t seem right, but I couldn’t see what else I could do to get to my autopay information. So I launched a chat window and started a conversation with Ryan. Who was very professional and as helpful as he could be. Which was not at all.

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At this point I got curious.

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And here the runaround began…

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I probably should have let Ryan off the hook at this point — after all, he wasn’t responsible for Citi’s user experience, but I didn’t let it go:

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At some point, Ryan / Citi finally offered a justification. It was that old standby, security:

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That didn’t make a lot of sense to me

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While this interaction was taking place, I went to the site of the credit card I use for personal expenses. That one’s also paid automatically. And when I clicked on the ‘make a payment’ button there, it immediately gave me the option to use my autopay bank account to make that manual payment.

As if they could sense what I was doing, Ryan / Citi then pivoted to a different explanation:

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I was fascinated by this interaction and ready to keep it going to see what they’d trot out next, but Ryan / Citi threw in the towel:

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As I say, I felt bad for Ryan throughout. He was being asked to defend a lazy and thoughtless Web design that he had no role in creating. I only kept the conversation going because I was interested to see what justifications the company would trot out for making its customers do unnecessary busywork.

Ryan, I’m sorry I kept the chat going so long. Citi, I think you owe me and your other customers an apology. And probably Ryan, too.