Sunday, 22 September 2013

Good Customer Service? Don’t Bank On It!

Small to medium business make up 99% of all private sector business in the UK, the small business sector is growing more rapidly than any other (small to medium being those employing up to 49 people). The vast majority of small businesses are really small in that they employ less than 10 people, with most of them sole traders and having a work force of one.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, because it would seem that although small businesses appear to be the saviour of the UK economy at present, they do not feel treated to the same customer service as the big boys of trading, when it comes to banking.

Banks are “not listening” when it comes to the small business sector 

The Federation of Small Businesses surveyed their members recently and 56% of them believe that banks do not care for the small business owner.  A third of them highlighted the cost of fees that they have to pay in banking charges as being too high, these on average can range from £1,075 to around £4000.

Feeling the banks do not care for the little person on the street is not necessarily confined to a business owner, nor is the feeling of confidence in our banks confined to members of the public. The reputation of our banks is down to an all-time low with the mis-selling of PPI, following on the heels of the Northern Rock and other banking crises.

However, instead of working hard to ensure us that our money is safe in their hands, to review the customer service they offer to the smaller companies that are the lifeblood of the economy, what have the banks gone and done? They are setting up a new (and no doubt costly) organisational monitoring standards body to keep an eye on the behaviour of bankers in the UK. 

Actions speak louder than words 

Surely, if they are not trustworthy or carrying out the job to the requirements of the financial standards or banking codes or treating their customers properly, then you would act accordingly, absolve them of their responsibilities and put in place retraining or new staff to ensure the job was being carried out properly?

Because that is what would happen to you or I, if we failed to get the work done to the correct standard and with the appropriate level of service. Bearing in mind it was not that long ago that the eight largest banks set up  the Professional Standards Board of the Chartered Banker Institute aimed at supporting ethical awareness and customer focus along with the competency of those working in the world of banking. 

Why then do we need another “watchdog”?

In order to get this economy back on its feet, then we all need to have confidence in a stable economic environment, and at the heart of this, confidence in our banking system. If they have to set up a second body to look over their shoulder to make sure they are doing what they are paid to do, then this doesn’t leave me feeling totally confident in them. Neither, it would seem, do the Federation of Small Businesses. 

 Good customer service, a reasonable system of charges and the knowledge that your money and investments are in good hands – what else is there? Your comments as always gratefully received.

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