With the backlash following the global financial crisis Barclays like many other financial institutions have been criticised for putting profit before their customers’ needs and so failing customer expectations. Ashok Vaswani, Chief Executive of Retail and Business Banking at Barclays has the task to build trust and put the customers at the heart of all its decisions. During his presentation at Cranfield Talk Business Ashok said “the world we live in has changed; it is a reality that all businesses need to embrace”.
Ashok gave the example of the industrial revolution that happened because of a social evolution. Now society demands social responsibility with the growth of global social consciousness businesses have to make changes to reflect this.
Ashok stated, “It is the needs and demands of society that continually change” he accepts that businesses should be aware that customer satisfaction is primordial to business growth. Businesses must either adapt to the needs of customers or become irrelevant.
There is bottom-line evidence that customer-centricity transforms businesses and Barclays have realised that customer service isn’t just the right thing to do, but that it’s also good for business. Ashok put forward 6 points of how they intend to make the changes and put customers at the centre of their business?
- Rebuilding your company’s culture to put the customer first.
- Helping employees learn new ways of thinking and acting.
- Empowering frontline employees with the critical task of embedding engagement and loyalty among customers.
- Teaching all employees the skills they need to deliver great customer experiences.
- Foster attentive feedback systems, regularly conduct meaningful customer surveys and on-going feedback from current customers.
- Implement continuous change/improvement of customer experience.
I find it interesting that values and leadership is not listed in the points above, rather like the mouth telling the body to act for customers but the brain still measuring success in profits. If this is the case employee will see through the rhetoric and the customer centric initiative will not become ingrained in their culture. So often organisations task a department to change and influence the whole organisation, but unless the whole leadership is motivated to change, unless you have strategic critical mass, the objectives will fail.
I would recommend three additions to Ashok points:
- Customer commitment from the Top Down
- Recognizing the Customer across All Lines of Business
- Designing Processes and Policies from the Customer’s Point of View
Customers do recognise when interacting with a company that really values them and their business. Customer experience can deliver great value in highlighting business strengths and in identifying gaps in meeting customer needs and expectations.
Crucially, putting customers at the centre of business can identify the difference between a company’s perception and the customer’s actual experience of service – which can be the difference between business failure and continued growth. It will be interesting to see how effective the changes at Barclays and in other financial institutions are in embracing customers at the centre of their business.
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