Yesterday morning I attended a seminar on bank brands. I’ll blog a bit about that later but there was one part that I found fairly intriguing that had to do with the overall value of bank brands returning to near 2007 highs, including those of the British banks. Sure, these banks had taken a knock, but they’re not out for the count by a long chalk.
Weird, huh? In an age where every morning you wake up with ABC bank has been screwing its customers to XYZ bank chief resigns amid insider trading scandal, you do wonder how any of these banks survive, let alone thrive.
Is it because the banks can get away with murder and no-one cares?
Of course people care.
But it’s more than that: it’s do they care enough?
Do people care enough to change their banks?
Not really. 75% of UK bank accounts are with the Big Four banks and few people ever switch.
Because all banks are the same …
… Or because the perception is that they’re all the same. They all treat customers the same way – as assets to leverage – and they all focus upon profit and shareholder return at the expense of the customer.
That is the common view and is very hard to break, especially when the headlines are all about mis-selling products, rigging rates and doing the dirty to get an extra buck here and there.
It was interesting in the branding conference however when one of the presenters started comparing their bank experience with their Amazon experience.
Amazon direct you to other products you might be interested in, reward you for loyalty, never question or quibble if you have a complaint and even give you experiences you never thought you needed or wanted but now could not live without … such as recommending that you might like to buy this music, which we’ll give you some free samples of, because you ordered something similar.
That’s why Amazon have put Comet, Jessops, HMV and now, looking increasingly likely, Waterstones out of business. It’s not because they offer electronics, music and books, but because they offer these products with a superior service and enhanced customer experience.
Now back to banking, and the banks treat customers as targets for share of wallet or, as one speaker said yesterday, theft of wallet.
So this is an easy area for superior service and an enhanced customer experience to have theft of customer surely?
And yet customers remain.
How weird is that?
Well, not really.
I’ve had discussions about customer service in banking from the day I entered the industry, and it’s the same discussion today: keep the customer, gain customer advocacy, measure satisfaction and loyalty or they’ll leave.
They never do.
Customer service in banking is a fallacy. It doesn’t matter a jot.
The only reason a customer ever leaves a bank is if the people they deal with are incredible rude or offensive; if the charges are excessive and unjustified; or if they have a serious disruption of service that results in embarrassment, losses or worse.
In other words, the only reason a customer ever changes bank is if they’re shat upon from a great height so that they realise they’re being mistreated badly.
And there is a morale to this story, which is this.
A worm wakes one morning and feels moisture in the air.
So the worm tunnels his way out of the soil to enjoy the grass, the morning dew and the lovely dappled sunlight shining across the meadow.
Just as he does this, a large bovine heifer cow dumps a large amount of pooh on the worm.
The worm is horrified, and finds himself caught in the foul smelling, steaming mess.
As he wriggles to escape, a crow swoops down and lifts him out of the mess.
“Oh thank you kind bird, thank you”, beamed the worm, feeling so much better to be saved from the mess he was in.
Just as he said this, the crow ripped the worm in half and ate him.
The morale being that the one who puts you in the mess may not be your enemy and the one who gets you out of it may not be your friend.
Therefore, better to stay with the devil you know.