Friday 16 October 2009

First Direct – Is being the listening bank enough?

active_listening First Directs roots come from the Midland Bank – at one time the largest bank in the world and one with its roots in my home town of Birmingham.

As a lad I remember the slogan they used which was “The Listening Bank” – and it would seem their young protégée First Direct is doing this in spades.

They listen.

They listen to their customers feedback – and it’s good – as one of the most recommended banks they rightly promote this to anyone else who will listen.

Basking in their reflective glory – they listen and then playback what they have heard. As a First Direct customer I know first hand that this is true – I’ve recommended them.

However me saying this is called advocacy – First Direct saying this can simply become tiresome.

We know they’re great, we know people think they’re great – but telling me isn’t great – show me.

Their latest offering called Talking Point, part of First Direct Live extends this listening – now customers can post their thoughts about the bank on topics from “What do you think about the bank” to “What makes you happy”.

And the customers have responded with the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good:-

Mandagod says “I love you First Direct – I’ve been with you almost from when you started […]”

The Bad:-

Paul from Sheffield says “Really really annoyed with fd for the first time ever. Have had a Visa Debit card foisted on me to replace maestro. Don’t want. Don’t like. No consultation. A retrograde step.”

The Ugly:-

Ripped off says – “Used to love you. Moved my mortgage to you – […]you don’t pass on rate cuts - I will be leaving as soon as I can as I feel cheated by you – your staff are lovely”

What is notably absent however is any kind of response – I can almost see the tumble weed rolling on by. I don’t want you to just listen, I want a dialogue.

Listening is good.

Telling us you’re listening is good.

Telling us what people think of you is good.

Actually showing us how you responded would make you great.

Actions speak louder than words.


Rachel said...

Interesting.. But is there just the possibility that FD agree with your flippant marketing soundbite and are focusing resource on actioning change rather than just responding with soothing - but ultimately hollow - words?

Many companies seem to have picked up on the "listening" bit. I recently had a very good experience with @BTCare sorting out my broadband on Twitter. But what was good about it was that they *did* something, not that they replied.

Conversely, hundreds of companies seem to have employed people (or more often bots) to track their brand name or follow forum posts, and reply with standardised soothing spin, and no intention of actioning.

It's possible that FD are listening, and learning, and doing something about their feedback. Rather than focusing their finite resource on telling you about it.

SN fanatics have to understand that this obsession with two-way dialogue will only last so long, like all shiny new things. What their consumers want is - Actions... As you say... Not more empty words...

Anonymous said...

Totally agree - but actions should be evidenced - i.e. we see them - and i'd rather their messages were how they responded rather than just how people rate them. I also disagree with two way dialogue being a fad - people do want a dialogue - ideally one to one, but if not at least feedback on common themes. Consumers are less forgiving so if they take the time to tell you about a problem you should take the time to feedback.

Anonymous said...

I just love this openess, love to see some of our Irish banks following this lead.

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