First direct schools Londoners on the value of customer service

Challenger bank first direct pranks Londoners with a burger van with appalling customer service. Here's what happened.

What would happen if your favourite lunchtime haunt was fully automated, but instead of smart service, took order based on assumptions? Challenger bank first direct believes that’s what the traditional banking experience is like for consumers; when bad service meets automation.

To make a point, first direct rigged a quirky East London burger van with hidden cameras and gave hungry workers the worst service of their life. Here’s what happened.

“We’ve always been known for doing things a little differently at first direct,” first direct’s head of brand and marketing, Zoe Burns-Shore, says. “We wanted to poke a little bit of fun at the status quo. Our award-winning knowledge of customer service means we also know what ticks our customers off – and we really pushed this to the limit with this prank with a service they just didn’t expect.”

From a long-drawn ordering process, to getting orders completely wrong, the BurGRR van exposed unsuspecting Londoners to its infuriatingly incompetent service. After closing abruptly after just a few hours, the BurGRR van returns under “new management” as Two Buns and a Bank, a unique street food experience featuring real first direct employees, to challenge one of the biggest banes of banking; customer services.

The prank in London’s Spitalfields market came off the back of new research from first direct that reveals a good customer experience simply isn’t an option for businesses and brands anymore. 86 per cent of consumers expect great customer service as standard.

Even more significantly, the findings highlight the detrimental impact of one bad experience on a business, as one in three admit they would never engage with a brand or business again as a result.

These findings become even more substantial when considering financial services as the research reveals good customer service is the main driver of trust. Three in four people believe excellent customer experiences are the main factor that impact and even increase their trust in the businesses with which they engage.

The BurGRR/Two Buns and a Bank prank was held in Shoreditch on Wednesday 22nd March 2017, offering members of the public a free lunch from the pop-up burger van.

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.

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Customer Service