Penitent Santander hires to resolve service issues

After the Daily Mail reported a rise in the number of complaints at their UK branches, Santander has announced their hiring in excess of 600 new staff to help handle customer service issues.

In light of the Daily Mail’s exposé of its practices, which included delays in ISA proccesing, incorrectly calculated interest rates added, and funds transferred incorrectly, the Spain-based bank has plans to employ the additional staff in order to effect improvements in the customer service at call centres and UK branches.

Santander’s recent growth in the UK market can be attributed to their acquisition of several high street institutions such as Alliance & Leicester, Abbey, and Bradford & Bingley, yet their customer service record has been found wanting despite the huge strides in market share the Spanish lending institution has made.

Antonio Horta-Osorio, Santander’s UK chief, released a statement in which he remarked that he was taking on new employees in order to continue improvements on his bank’s service in addition to supporting Santander’s growth in a sustainable manner.

This revelation on Santander’s part of an increased dedication to service comes on the heels of a strong earnings statement; pre-tax earnings rose by 10 per cent, up to  £875m, as consumers opened in excess of 519,000 new accounts.  Additionally 10 per cent of all mortgages in the UK were handled by Santander.  Business loan lending for small enterprise also increased by 20 per cent.  Horta-Osorio commented on the growth, stating that the progress of Santander’s transition to a full-service commercial banking institution has been indicated by this business growth.

This offsets the fall in net profits in Santander’s native Spain over the past six months.  Due to provisions put in place to manage debt problems brought about by the global economic downturn, profits were down for the Spanish bank’s domestic operations from £3.79bn to £3.73bn.

While Emilio Botin, Santander’s chairman, assured shareholders that the bank was still on target with twelve-month profits that would coincide with last year’s figures, profits for the bank did fall more sharply in the second quarter of this year than anticipated.

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