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Better customer service lies at the heart of the ICB report

So, Sir John Vickers’ ICB report has finally been published and many banks are analysing the detail behind the reforms, keen to understand the impact of ring-fencing on their business models and profits. Admittedly, the recommendations will require big changes to be made and banks will need to start planning soon for the 2019 deadline. However, if all the detail is stripped away, the issue lying at the heart of the report is how banks can better serve and protect their customers through greater industry competition.

Placing customer service at the heart of financial services is long overdue and an approach that many other industries adopted years ago.

While branch-banking will always have a role to play in delivering good customer service, online and mobile banking are increasingly being adopted by banks as a way of differentiating their services and by customers looking to take greater control of their own finances. In the online environment, some banks are offering visualisation tools, enabling customers to develop graphs that can chart their holiday savings efforts or compare the performance of different savings accounts. Those financial institutions offering mobile banking services are providing customers with anytime, anywhere access to their bank account details. The nirvana for many of these banks is to  provide context-based services to their customers, which are both timely, relevant and spatially of value – being offered an extension to your current credit card limit on a Saturday morning whilst in a shopping centre to save the potential embarrassment of a card being declined is a good example to consider.What the online and mobile platforms offer banks is the ability to deliver customer-centric, tailored services at a time and in a way that suits the customer. With the most significant consequence of the Vickers report being greater industry competition, customer service will inevitably become the new battleground in banking. For many new entrants, this will undoubtedly be the cornerstone of their ‘hearts and minds’ campaigns to win over new customers, with the latest digital technology in place to make this a reality ...



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