...there to serve the customer.

19/09/2017 12:00:00

 

CEO's Notes



In 1990 I wrote my first 'mission statement' for a bank. They were still coming into fashion then and over the years I came to dislike mission statements. Why such grandiose-sounding text to address a simple question: 'what is your main purpose'? My reply to that question is prompt and unequivocal: 'we are there to serve the customer'.

Banks often engage expensive consultants to write long and elaborate mission statements. But they actually need only a few words to capture it all. As Henry Ford once famously said: 'it's the customer who pays the wages, bills and dividends - we handle the money'. But I do look at ‘customer commitment declarations’ of banks for inspiration and particularly like that of Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

It reads something like: we want to a) earn your business, not count on it, b) offer strength in uncertain times, c) place you at the centre of everything, d) be better than we ever have been, and e) focus on service and on service and on service and… . Straight language that gets the message across.

For various reasons, linked to the state’s involvement in the banking sector for many years and inflexible practices which followed from that, Maltese banks were not trailblazers in customer service standards. But things improved over time, especially as technological innovation came to help. In a world where technology and banking share the same space and where compliance has become a killer, it is tempting to regard the customer experience as one which should be determined mostly by technology. It would also be wrong. In the final sum, banks are ...there to serve the customer.

 

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