Treating customers fairly is a principle that most financial institutions try to adhere to and so they should. How stringently they enforce this practice though is another issue and has often come up for debate. However, with the Financial Services Authority
(FSA) taking over the regulation of retail banking conduct from November, the institutions that come under its remit will no longer be able to take the matter lightly. From November, for the first time, banks could be penalised over any poor treatment of customers,
which is currently only governed by a voluntary code. At a time when purse strings are strained as it is, banks cannot afford to be nonchalant about the regulatory change and risk facing hefty fines if they don’t make some changes to the way they deal with
their customers. Times are also such that the banking sector is coming under even more scrutiny so the slightest slip up in the treatment of customers could prove detrimental to a bank’s reputation and customer retention strategy.
To ensure all customers are treated fairly and are properly informed at all times, the standard approach of dealing with all customers in the same way clearly won’t work. Communications strategies will need
to be targeted and personal through interactive, intelligent dialogue. This involves anticipating customer needs prior to an interaction as well as delivering relevant and meaningful communications in which each customer is treated appropriately and
uniquely. Equally, it is important that the needs of the company are taken into account so that customer offers and propositions, while tailored specifically for that customer, are also designed to support the business goals of the company.
There is no doubt that this will require investment and effort by banks to meet individual customer needs without detracting from the organisation’s long-term goals. This may seem counter-intuitive in the current cost-saving climate but now is the time
to make the commitment to treating customers fairly before the FSA enforces it the hard way.