The subject of banks and their service, or lack of, came up on Linkedin this week. It seems that, although satisfaction levels are low, people either stay with their banks or move from one to another without finding what they want. One person who joined the conversation said he had to “demand” and “manipulate” to get satisfaction from his bank at a most basic level.
This made me realise that banking is a grudge purchase on the whole, as is insurance. Most people need a bank and there are not that many to choose from. We therefore put up with service that is inadequate and frustrating. It’s the same with healthcare although we do have the option to buy private services if we have the means. High net worth people can bank outside the high street and presumably have staff at their beck and call.
It’s a matter of size isn’t it? Large national organisations become sluggish, unwieldy and out of touch with their clients. The financial crisis drove banks, the health service and councils to pull in their belts and we are now feeling the consequences. They carry less fat yet they are unaccustomed to being flexible, efficient, customer-focused and having all the other attributes that smaller organisations need.
But I do have empathy. Years ago I worked in the civil service. Our work was subject to a code of practice and, although we were dealing with benefits claimants who were in distress, initiative was frowned upon. Layers of bureaucracy weighed us down and it was an environment that stifled rather than encouraged ambition. Not a breeding ground for entrepreneurs although many ex government staff are now being cajoled into self-employment to suit election objectives (or am I being cynical?)
What if our own businesses were as few in number as banks? Would we then allow our clients to feel unwanted or undervalued. Would our marketing claims become trite and unbelievable? Would we even notice if clients grumbled or disappeared?
If the main or sole purpose of a business is to make money, other values cannot survive. Quality and customer relationships are cast aside in the struggle to get the numbers right whether they are balance sheets, waiting lists or cost savings.
Conclusion? Maybe we should feel sorry for those rule-bound bank staff and be glad that we are free to run our businesses as we wish, succeeding or otherwise according to our own efforts.
If you would like a meeting to talk about how to build and promote a strong brand you know where I am.