I have just returned from a trip to East Africa. Those of you who read my blog regularly will know, that I am a huge fan of this market. What I see are a dynamic group of people who are driven to deliver innovative products, services and growth to their customers. In a nutshell, it is this kind of entrepreneurial spirit that I believe will define banking in the future.
Like with all banks across the region, many of the teams are pushing really hard to develop a strong digital offer. Most describe this as an app. However, those who met me will know that I always call for a note of caution when developing banking apps. It must be said that I am not saying Banks should not develop apps, what I am saying is that Banks should be careful to develop the apps their customers want to use.
What do I mean by this? Well, fast forward three years. Every bank will have its own Banking application and all customers will have these on their mobile devices. Now, all is well and good, when the customers relationship with the bank is healthy. But, let’s imagine for a moment that the bank does something stupid - like my bank @hsbc did recently. My bank decided to send SMS messages to my ex-wife every time I made a cash withdrawal or transfer, my bank also decided to decline my cheques because they mistakenly, at new year, switched my ex-wife’s signature with mine on their system. Gross negligence is the phrase that comes to mind here... and after banking with HSBC for over 30 years, I will now close all my accounts with them and move to a different bank. That said, I am dreading the process of doing this.
Pause for a moment and hold that thought. Now fast forward a couple of years and imagine my primary relationship with my bank is through my mobile device... an app. I could simply use it to close my account, transfer my funds out and delete the app from my phone... bye bye HSBC.
The worrying thing is, this could be your bank, and your customer.
So, how can we resolve this issue, making it harder for customers to leave your bank and easier for them to forgive you. Here are some pointers:
Work hard to engage with your customers personally, let them know that you have their best interests at heart. Build a meaningful, human relationship between your bank and your customers. Cultivate a service based culture, where your front-line staff realise that without customers, they have no jobs. Their role is to be knowledgeable, patient, caring and helpful - a customers friend.
When things go wrong, and they will, do not be afraid to say sorry. Customers will love you more for this. Allow your customers to give feedback on your service - good and bad - respond in a timely way to let them know you care
I always tell Bank CEO’s I meet that they know their customers better than their wives or husbands. Use the data you have on your customers likes and dislikes to offer them content that engages them in meaningful and personal relationships. Segmentation should be a word of the past
There are a million ways to be creative, to engage and to offer a service that really binds your customers to your bank. So get creative and stop all this copy paste of digital services from one bank to the next... please.