Banks that focus on successful employee engagement have happier customers

The Grass Roots Group, provider of employee and customer engagement solutions, has released results of its survey of more than 2,300 UK consumers, highlighting what frustrates them most about their bank. The survey reveals that 80 per cent would be annoyed if they experienced a poor attitude from staff towards them either in branch or when dialling a call centre, which is second only to a bank charging them for going slightly overdrawn. The third thing respondents find most irksome is if a bank makes an error on their account.

The research conducted by The Grass Roots Group’s Customer Engagement division, also found that three quarters of customers feel that their bank doesn’t understand them as an individual. The problem is exacerbated by customers feeling they can no longer see a local bank manager that understands them due to the widespread closure of so many high street banks over the past few years. According to recent figures from the Campaign for Community Banking[1], a total of more than 500 further branches are expected to close during the course of this year. This would break the record of 479 set last year, compared to just 195 in 2013.

There was a distinct correlation highlighted by the survey, that those banks scoring well on employing the most knowledgeable staff – namely Santander, First Direct and Nationwide – all received favourable scoring on the occurrence of the main three frustrations of charging for going slightly overdrawn, poor staff attitude and errors on customers’ accounts.

“Experience and insight has shown us that successful employee engagement produces strong customer satisfaction, creating a culture of brand advocacy that delivers long-term customer retention, attracts new customers and fends off fierce competition to recruit the most elite talent,” explains Adam Goran, Divisional Director for Customer Engagement at Grass Roots Group.

“Our research found that good service reputation is a factor influencing the choice of the 2015 customer, with 85 per cent of customers who receive a very good service stating that their current bank is their first choice for new products. This goes to show that employee knowledge and engagement has a direct link to an organisation’s continued success and growth,” added Goran.

According to Gallup[2], companies with higher employee engagement levels may have up to four times the earnings per share (EPS). Activate these employees online, and they are even more valuable through their ability to grow awareness and find new customers in a very authentic and personal way.

“Critical to the bottom line for not just banks but any 21st century business is a workforce who is completely in tune with the customer brand values and offering. Brand activation – the alignment of all parts of the employee value proposition to the brand values – requires a relentless desire to measure and challenge,” says Paul Bartlett, Divisional Director for Employee Solutions at Grass Roots Group.

“Only by understanding and improving the employee value proposition before it becomes customer-facing can banks see a real boost in customer satisfaction, whilst at the same time, giving the employees a real sense of pride and ownership.”

Responding to the survey findings, Sue Willis, Managing Director of Customer Experience and Channels at Santander comments, “We work really hard to put our customers’ needs at the heart of our business, and we’re committed to making Santander simple, personal and fair for all our customers. I’m genuinely proud to see the hard work of everyone in Santander recognised and reflected in the Grass Roots survey results.

“We have invested significantly in our products and services, invigorating our proposition. We take special care to ensure that we only ever offer customers products and services that they understand and need, and focus on being open, honest and professional in everything we do. We take great pride in supporting our staff to be the best they can, and were pleased to be among the top 25 Best Big companies to work for in the Sunday Times 2015 Best Companies survey.

“It is massively encouraging to see that we are making progress, however we know there’s more to do and will keep pushing hard every day to improve for our customers.”

The research was carried out by The Grass Roots Group from December 2014 to January 2015, with 2,371 UK consumers surveyed. The study discovered consumer attitudes to banks today compared to 2012, when base-line research was initially carried out.  Various areas were examined such as whether consumer loyalty and the desire to switch changed, how the major UK banks perform now compared to 2012, whether consumer opinions towards banks have changed, how customers want to be rewarded today and is the frequency and channel of communication correct.

[1] Campaign for Community Banking, December 2014 –

[2] Gallup, June 2014 –