Always a pleasure to be judging a category where teams are so proud of their work. This was definitely the case this year with the Financial Services Customer Services Training Programme of the year. The very worthy winner was Metro Bank for their innovative and infectious induction programme. So many businesses can learn from the way they really excite their new recruits into turning up for the first day! However, I do have to say that it is easier for a shiny new challenger brand like Metro to do everything right – no legacy, no cynicism and no built up problems. They are growing at their own pace for the sake of their brand and customers. So a lovely clean sheet to start from – I genuinely hope that it is always so wonderful and exciting to start your career there!
This is why I do have to give a quick shout out to the other contenders in this category as they were dealing with very real and difficult challenges with their training – challenges that only really come from brands which have been around a while and need to make some real changes. Whilst not ground breaking for this category they were certainly very innovative in their own businesses and hopefully for their customers – the most important thing right?
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Here is the real life scenario. I am currently working with a client in the incredibly fast moving arena of businesses being able to accept payments from customers. Bear with me; I know it might sound strange but it is surprisingly interesting. It is the world of contactless payments, Google wallets and paying for things using your mobile phone. And it is a world where technology is moving so fast that it is effectively impossible to keep up, whilst figuring out at the same time how to provide the best solutions for customers.
The only way I know to approach these tricky commercial problems is to talk to customers. Hence my conversation with a London cabbie yesterday. I asked him whether I could pay for my journey by card instead of cash (rather than stopping at an ATM).
Cabbie: “Naah sorry-it costs too much. It would be useful like, but then I’d have to charge you an extra 10% and that’s not right is it? So I don’t bother.”
Me: “Have you heard about these newer companies which give you a bit of kit you can plug into your phone and which allow you to accept card payments from passengers? It costs about 3% per transaction”
Cabbie: “Funny you should say that. A geezer gave me this earlier today.”
In the amazing way London taxi drivers do, without taking his eyes off the road for an instant, he reached down next to him and passed a leaflet back to me. It described a mobile payment device from a German company called payleven, with whom I am familiar. Here it is:
Two things about the leaflet I wanted to point out:
1. The missing apostrophe in the headline
2. Three spelling mistakes in 27 words in the “what we stand for” section.
The argument I want your help with is this: to what extent is a consumer’s likelihood to buy a (new) product or service impacted by the presence of small, completely minor errors or mistakes in a customer facing part of a proposition such as a leaflet or brochure?
Of course, in the context of a whole business, these are relatively small mistakes and explainable. “It was the agency’s fault.” “We spotted the mistake early and only 50 leaflets were actually distributed.” “I am terrible at spelling.” “These things happen. “ I am not talking about this. Whatever the cause of the mistakes, I want to ascertain their impact on a potential customer’s attitude to buying from, in this case, payleven.
I’ll nail my colours to the mast. When I see things like this I come over all queasy. I really don’t like it. My view is that if, for whatever reason or excuse, a customer sees something like this it has a fundamental and overwhelming negative influence on their likelihood to purchase. And in a new area such as mobile payment acceptance, where we have the incredibly challenging job of trying to get consumers to change their behaviour and adopt new technology, the negative impact is amplified. My mind (as well as my heart. And gut.) says: if payleven have not paid sufficient attention to this, why should I believe there are not similar errors in their clever coding which means, for instance, that my card details are not as protected as I might like?
But I am genuinely open to the fact that it may not have such a big impact.
Innovative, tech based companies such as payleven, Wonga, Metro Bank and Funding Circle are trailblazers. Because of how they have redreamed(?) what a BAU customer experience can be like in financial services, they are amongst my favourite types of company. And also because, by demonstrating to customers what ‘good’ can look like, they are compelling incumbent bigger players to up their own game-which they are doing. The new boys and girls have been the catalyst for the launch of great things like Barclay’s Pingit, CommBank’s Pi and more from the likes of Visa, CaixaBank and others. The innovators are shaking up industries, providing propositions with the customer experience as the champion and I think they are tremendous. Yes, even Wonga (as I have previously written about here and here). And because of this, I think there may be a genuine reason to judge these types of organisation from a less harsh perspective. They have to do so many things so quickly, fighting so many battles on so many fronts, that we may need to be a bit forgiving if we are to see them thrive.
We all make mistakes. It is not about that. It is this: it does not matter if you are a massive bank with years of history or a start up trying to get to profit as quickly as possible. The essential truth is that it is still about getting customers to buy your stuff. And whoever you are, a business needs to forensically understand what helps this and what stops it.
Given the nature of what I have written about, I suspect some of you with time on your hands may be inclined to look over this post and spot any mistakes from the author. I have tried to ensure they are minimal but I have added at least one (there may be others) deliberately for the sport of it. However, in return, please help me settle the argument by answering the question below:
Please vote and we’ll send you the results (along with the deliberate mistake, if you are interested).
Posted by Ajai Ranawat
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