Financial Services is facing a current trend to close branches and move services online. We see this in all markets and all sectors, but nowhere is it having more of an impact than in long-standing financial corporations. Technology is transforming banking services, with faster, more convenient ways of managing and transacting money moving to the online space all the time.
In Asia, Ant Financial Services (who owns the world’s largest money market) launched MYBank for SMEs, which promises a 3-1-0 service; that’s three minutes to apply for a business loan, one second for approval and zero human contact time, presented as a benefit. These AI-driven experiences are not available in the UK just yet, but it’s only a matter of time.
The UK government runs an annual survey that puts a spotlight on UK business banking. The most recent one was published in August this year and suggests that in business banking it’s the human touch that is winning over customers, not technology.
Handelsbanken and Metro Bank continue to dominate this official UK league table. They hold top slots in most categories and, despite recent news of its plummeting shares, Metro Bank has maintained second place for overall customer satisfaction of SME current accounts.
On the face of it the banks are quite different from each other: Metro Bank is a high-profile, high-street challenger without the baggage of legacy. Handelsbanken opened its (Swedish) doors in 1871 and operates very much below the radar, using local branches to make local decisions. What both banks have in common is a focus on ‘branches and people,’ which flies in the face of an industry that is closing branches, removing human interaction from the customer experience and moving services online.
“This inside out approach created a commercially successful, authentic brand that broke category codes with an increase in sales of 38% over three years.”
While Metro Bank is facing share price challenges over a recent accounting error, it’s continuing to top business and consumer satisfaction charts with its emphasis on high quality branches and longer opening hours. Handelsbanken, on the other hand, has an unorthodox ‘bottom-up’ approach that gives local bank managers autonomy and staff a share in profits.
If the government survey shows anything, it’s that these banks are getting things right when it comes to meeting their customers’ needs. They are investing in their workforce and their workplaces to deliver an excellent customer experience.
While Handelsbanken and Metro Bank represent a tiny part of the UK business banking market, it doesn’t mean we cannot learn from their popularity. On the face of it is the commitment to connecting people that makes them different, particularly in an industry that is using technology to take people out of the experience.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Technology can also be used to connect people together. In business banking, a stand-out example of this is DBS (Singapore), perhaps one of the world’s most celebrated digital banks who offers a unique social media platform (DBS BusinessClass) to SME’s alongside packaged services and tools.
At gyro, we believe that B2B businesses need to build their brands from the inside out. As the world’s leading expert in helping B2B businesses succeed, we have developed a proprietary approach to building brands in this way, putting employees and customers at the heart.
When we developed a new global brand for a leading industrial manufacturer, we needed to articulate its competitive advantage. We focused on its products and services, and how they improve the experience for both the organisation’s business customers and end customers.
This inside out approach created a commercially successful, authentic brand that broke category codes with an increase in sales of 38% over 3 years.
In B2B Financial Services, there is real opportunity to do the same and to use communication and experience planning to fill the void that the single-minded pursuit of technology is creating in business banking.