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Banks 'have a lot to learn' on customer service

THE trade body for call centres believes banks can learn more about customer service by adopting techniques from companies like John Lewis and Coca-Cola.

The Customer Contact Association (CCA) believes banks must become more creative in thinking how to serve customers in order to rebuild trust with consumers.

The financial crisis and failures of Royal Bank of Scotland, HBOS and Northern Rock eroded faith in the banks.

Subsequent scandals over large bonus pots, Libor rigging and PPI mis-selling further undermined the place banks once had in society.

At CCA's annual convention in Glasgow yesterday there was a panel discussion on trust and transparency in the banking sector.

Speaking prior to the debate, CCA chief executive Anne Marie Forsyth said she believes banks are trying hard to improve what they do but could learn lessons from other industries.

She said: "The hypothesis is banks can actually use every single moment of contact with their customers as one part of their toolkit to rebuild trust.

"Accountability and measurability at every customer touch point is something the banks need to be aware of.

"I think banks can learn from the likes of John Lewis, [mobile phone service] Giff Gaff, Coca-Cola and the DVLA which have won awards for customer service.

"It is about banks learning about brand connection. Before the financial crisis banks did not need to do that as people generally didn't switch too much and banks just did what they did.

"Now they need to be a bit more innovative and engage better with customers."

Ms Forsyth also believes banks need to stop keeping information in silos and cited Amazon as an example financial services could try to emulate.

She said: "The challenge for financial services is getting to that connected-up world and learning."

Ms Forsyth also said she believes banks must make sure frontline employees are aware of how important they are in rebuilding consumer trust.

She said: "There are some amazing people who work in contact centres in financial services bringing great levels of experience. Any brand not using that is missing a big trick."

Simon Thompson, chief executive of the Chartered Banker Institute, who participated in the CCA debate, said: "We need to rebuild a strong culture of professionalism in banking and show it is a profession that cares about its customers.

"It will take a generation or two to genuinely rebuild trust in banks and bankers.

"The more banks that can hang on to experienced customer facing staff then it will be better for the banks and for customers."

Mr Thompson said by July next year more than 70,000 UK bankers will have reached the foundation level of the Chartered Banker Professional Standards Board, which was formed in October last year.

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