Banks have far to go to secure customer loyalty

I think ICM’s Steve Ogborn has it dead right - financial services firms need to start with loyalty. And that starts with systems and customer communications that are human and authentic.

So how hard is that? If my experience is anything to go by, the answer is ‘very’. Take these three examples from just last week:

One: my bank sends me a standard letter that makes me feel like a naughty schoolboy who’s been caught smoking behind the bike sheds.

Two: I get a letter from a well-known insurance company that uses the archaic phrase “We trust you will find this arrangement acceptable.” It’s not 1843 any more, chaps.

Third: a credit card company’s customer service rep barks impenetrable legalese T&Cs at me for the best part of two minutes and then expects me to just agree.

These are the communications that really matter to people; the ones they get once they’ve invested, opened an account or taken out a policy. You can do all you like with offers and products, but until people who have actually bought from you feel as though they’re being treated like human beings, who can blame them for a lack of loyalty?

Mark McArthur-Christie, managing director, Freeman Christie

By alienating staff, HMV’s troubles are just beginning

I think everyone will agree that HMV has scored a truly stunning own goal with its policy to ban staff tattoos.

Its purported attempts to be inclusive have achieved quite the opposite effect. But its thinking has actually far more damaging implications than this initial burst of negative PR.

All brands must evolve and HMV’s management is correct to recognise this, but what it has failed to recognise is that it needs its staff to evolve naturally with it. 

A brand is on an assured fast track to failure if it does not have staff who fully believe in the brand and its direction and are prepared to do their upmost to convey this belief on the shop floor. Overnight, this clumsy attempt to move the brand on has both alienated staff and exposed the management to accusations of not understanding the value of its brand heritage.

It will take far longer to get its staff back on side.

Julian Pullan, president, EMEA, Jack Morton Worldwide

Help for the half not using social media

According to recent IAB research, only 55 per cent of companies have adapted their business strategy to include social media. A shocking revelation in light of social becoming more popular.

Social media isn’t something that businesses should be apprehensive about. It is a very effective tool for engaging with customers and prospects if it is used correctly.

It is all about setting up the right channels for business and learning to engage and filling those platforms with the right content. Something that many businesses just don’t have the time or resource to do.

It is fundamental that businesses take the time to choose the relevant platforms before any engagement begins or they are just setting themselves up to fail. It is about working out what to say and how often to say it before commencing and it is important to create a library of suitable content.

It is clear that there is still uncertainty around social media and some businesses are unaware of how or when to effectively use it. It is important that businesses don’t just jump in head first; if they are unsure of how to get the most out of social then they need to gain advice from an agency with experience and knowledge in setting up social media strategies.

Without this guidance many businesses will fall into the trap of a redundant social presence due to lack of resource and time. Social media channels that are left unloved are just as, if not more, damaging than not having a social platform at all. Unused profiles run the risk of making the business look absent in their market due to the last update being some months ago.

It is imperative that the other 45 per cent of businesses in the UK are effectively making the most of the social age and embracing the technology freely available to them.

Gemma Farmer, social media strategist, Neo PR

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