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Chairman of Marks & Spencer plc

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Spare Some Change? - Banking on a Better Experience

As I described last week, when banks deploy iconographic technology in branch that doesn’t work it undermines trust in their core proposition. And when they “manage” their customer’s waiting experience on a scrappy piece of paper they just look silly.

 

Mobile apps have become the de-facto standard for the transactional finance stuff that we all have to do and so fewer of us go through the branch doors except to pay in cheques from elderly relatives.

 

But mobile apps don’t grow revenue – they just stop business walking down the road to another bank with an even cooler app. Usage doesn’t equal love. It’s a big leap of faith from moving my money around on a mobile app when I’m busy paying for something, to trusted adviser status for the expensive, long term products that my bank would like to sell me.

 

So how well are banks coping with these challenges right now?

 

Let’s take my bank as an example. I’m supposed to have a personal banker but I don’t know who that even is anymore and a named business banker who I have never heard from. It’s at least eighteen months since they tried to have any sort of grown up conversation with me and yet in that time I have moved house, fought off cancer and helped to launch several new businesses. A number of life changing events where, perhaps, my bank could have reached out to me in a way that brought them more firmly into my life, building my trust and confidence in them as a source of knowledge and wisdom.

 

So how are my bank relevant to my life? How are they adding value to my everyday experience? What opportunities are they creating to intervene in a timely and relevant way, utilising insights garnered from their unique knowledge of my purchasing habits?

 

Sadly, it would appear that we don’t have that kind of relationship.

 

And yet this is a major UK bank who arguably should be up there, best in breed and delivering great customer experiences. I know that at senior levels within the organisation they say they have a plan and it’s all on track but as a customer I’m underwhelmed.

 

Banks need to earn consumer’s trust, not the other way round. We all know that any company is only as good as its last customer interaction, banks included. Walk the talk. Leave the grand boardroom with magnificent view across Canary Wharf and go to coalface – take a look at real customer experiences – today.

 

In my experience commercial revolution is a tough, painful and expensive business. Incremental innovation is lower risk, easier to manage and generally delivers the “low hanging fruit” faster.

 

Maybe it’s time to spare some of the big change projects that are targeted at a perpetual tomorrow and focus where it counts, on all of those moments of truth with today’s customers.