Okay, I realize that unless you are a perpetual movie geek like me, you may not remember Sally Field's much maligned Academy Award acceptance speech ( I've happily included a clip so you can
view it now). But it was the first thought that popped into my head as I read this article about First Direct. I think it's great that the bank is willing to ask and actually hear what its customers think. Because all too often being exuberant about
being liked gets viewed with a cynical eye. It's time banks and bankers started being a little more focused on the customer because as I've said many times, customer satisfaction is going to be the sword that separates the "good from the bad".
Right now, customers--whether individual or corporate--are reading negative headlines about the state of their banks or their banks treatment of its customers. They are seeing banks fight against reform while accepting government financial aid. They are
seeing banks increase fees while decreasing service. Most importantly, they are seeing
banks as the bad guys.
I just spent three weeks on the road, listening to customers talk about what they need but don't feel they can get from their banks. Just below the surface in every conversation was a call for improved efficiencies, greater transparency and better service.
And while banks may indeed be listening to their customers, their message is getting lost beneath the reality of the customer experience.
Years ago, I had a customer tell me, "I don't care about your internal issues, I just want to know how you're going to help me". It's a lesson, I've never forgotten. So to banks and the bankers who run them, I impart Mr. Davis' words of wisdom which essentially
boiled down to "ask, listen, fix" because you work for him. He doesn't work for you.
So hats off to First Direct for going "straight to the horse's mouth" to find out what their customers think. Are there any other
banks quite so brave? Time will tell.