By Mike Davies, Vice President EMEA North, GMC Software Technology Ltd
As TSB returns to the UK’s high streets as a separate brand for the first time in almost two decades, it’s easy to view the bank’s revival with a certain sense of nostalgia. But do we really want modern banks to be like they were in the 1980s and 90s? Back then, things were certainly simpler: we didn’t have so many banking channels and passwords to contend with. We may even have known our bank manager. But let’s not get too misty-eyed about the past.
With that simplicity came fewer opening hours and very limited banking options when your branch was closed. And if you didn’t like how your bank treated you, tough! It was much easier to divorce your spouse than break off your relationship with your bank.
With the current TSB spin-off and the likelihood that RBS branches are going to be sold to a consortium of investors, the UK banking world is going through yet another radical upheaval. It’s great news for everyone as UK taxpayers look likely to get back some of their money and the activity is helping to stoke signs of an economic recovery. But these changes to high street banking mean that consumers are being encouraged to think about their bank and its services differently. And it’s not just spin-offs and privatisations that are helping to change the face of banking, there are also challenger banks and the likes of Virgin Money, M&S and Tesco – all powerful brands in their own right – which are invading the traditional space and gaining ground on their more established rivals by ripping up the old rule book..
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The challenge for every bank as competition gets stronger is how to differentiate yourself. Good products with decent interest rates go a long way to attracting customers. But with your competitors pretty much matching you, you’ll need to go that extra distance to capture and, more importantly, retain custom. This means engaging with your customers; giving them a wide choice of products and services; matching your offerings to their needs; providing a truly superior experience; and understanding how they want you to engage with them.
Integrity, transparency, and simplicity – in addition to solid, personalised advice – are all features of a bank that really wants to be loved by its customers. With a personalised service being one of the top reasons given by clients when deciding whether to sign up with – or leave – a bank, it’s vital to have an effective communications strategy.
And it’s not just us who says this. Forrester Research has revealed that to remain competitive and acquire or retain customers, financial institutions must give them personalised information when and how they want it – morning, noon or night, via print, email, the web, social media and mobile devices. Today’s most successful banks will invest in the right technology, tools and people to ensure they achieve this goal.
It’s time to consider the needs of every single one of your customers – so you can keep your existing ones as well as getting new ones to sign up for your services.