I have just received an email from one of my fellow directors, asking if I could recommend a bank to him as he was seeking to move after 20 years with HSBC.
I was intrigued to discover what might have motivated such a normally calm and unflappable individual to seek to break the normal inertia inherent in this sector and seek another provider?
The answer was simply down to a shockingly poor brand experience, in his case, I have to admit, it is an extreme event from a brand that should know better.
In short his wife went into a branch of HSBC in order to open a savings account for their newly born daughter. A simple enough thing one might suggest and something that should have been seen as a seed for a long lasting and profitable relationship between their daughter and the bank.
Instead of receiving helpful advice and encouragement to choose the right product for her as a long term saver she was “berated for not wanting to change her maiden name, for not wanting to undertake a full review of all of the family personal finances and for just wanting to open the account and go” and then to cap it all two members of staff stood over her, blocking her exit from the office.
The outcome was that she left in tears totally confused and very annoyed, hardly a textbook outcome for a brand experience in anyone’s book, let alone a brand that uses lemonade stands and children to position itself as “The World’s Local Bank”.
Reading their excellent “creating a brand” publication (https://www.knowledge.hsbc.co.uk/tools-and-resources/article/creating-a-brand) it would appear that they understand the importance of delivering consistently on brand experiences, well at least the theorists in the business do. However it would appear in this case that they have failed to inspire the operational teams to deliver.
So how can such a great opportunity to deliver brilliant customer service break down so catastrophically at the operational stage? What could have driven the front of house team to think that what they were doing was a positive experience for the customer? How could any of them believe what they were doing was the right thing?
Your guess is as good as mine, but experience would suggest that a perfect storm of inappropriate measurement driving bad behaviour combined with a local management focus on internal metrics rather than customer focused one’s will be at the core of the issue.
This experience, yet again, proves to me that operational teams must be at the centre of delivering brand experiences helping front line team members to understand and be inspired by their significant roles in delivering the brand for customers and the business.
Recruiting the right team members with the right attitudes, rewarding the right behaviours, measuring the impact of positive experiences and never losing sight of the fact that good manners, as a minimum, can build great brand experiences.
Ignoring this just builds expensive and avoidable churn into your metrics.