Can Virgin bring customer service sparkle to banking?
The Virgin brand is known for doing things differently and for putting the customer first, whichever market it is operating in. So last week’s news that the UK government has sold Northern Rock to Virgin Money could potentially have a big impact on the banking market.
Northern Rock will be rebranded as Virgin Money, with the company pledging to increase the number of branches it has and to add to consumer choice in the market. There does seem to be a need for change – in a recent report the Independent Commission on Banking (ICB) stressed the need for banks to improve customer service. And our own research, carried out as part of the 2011 Eptica Multichannel Customer Service Study found that many banks couldn’t answer basic questions asked on the web or via email.
The Northern Rock/Virgin deal is not the only upheaval in the banking world. With the forthcoming sale of 600 Lloyds TSB branches to potentially form a completely new bank 2012 promises to deliver major changes in the market, with the potential of extending choice and providing a higher overall level of customer service.
However financial products can be extremely complex for customers to understand and are tightly regulated. This means that delivering consistently great customer service can be difficult – whether you are Virgin or an existing high street bank. Based on our experience we’ve previously recommended five areas of focus – speaking the customer’s language, integrating customer service across multiple channels, listening to customer feedback, investing in staff training and being innovative. Add all of these together and you should be really understanding your customers, what they want and how they would like to be treated – and it is then vital to give your staff the tools and knowledge to deliver on your promises.
In an increasingly competitive banking world those that fail to meet customer needs will see their businesses shrink as consumers move elsewhere, so now is the time to focus investment on customer service ahead of 2012.