I like the theme of the current current account ads in the UK for the Nationwide Building Society. The whole 'banking for people who don't like banks' thing really touches on the frustration and mis-trust amongst, well, pretty much the entire population, with the limited choice of banking solutions and providers available.
The Society has been quick to identify a (arguably quite subtle) point of difference between them and 'the banks', and wisely exploit it. And it's a strategy that seems to be paying off: Nationwide has reported record levels of account openings, with an increase of over 50% on 2012 (albeit their c.6% market share is still a drop in the ocean compared to the 75% coverage held between the 'big four').
How much of this growth can we really put down to a bit of customer insight and on-target marketing? In my view, quite a lot.
For a contrast, consider the woes of The Co-operative Bank. Yes, the Lloyds/Verde debacle will have been a huge distraction of resources and cash, but with its in-vogue ethical credentials and mutual status, plus a group brand already known and trusted across food, travel, insurance, legal services, funeralcare, (…the list goes on) you’d think the banking arm would be perfectly placed to ride the high ground with disillusioned customers of the mainstream banks. Add in some CRM capability and a group-wide customer loyalty programme and they’d have a package that would be hard for competitors to replicate. But where’s the marketing push? Where’s the customer empathy and in-tune messaging? I'm still waiting.
So there’s a point here, and parallels across many other industries and customers. And its one about understanding, and empathy, and dare I say, something about corporate humility too…
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By Kevin Sheldrake
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