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NatWest – five key things it needs to do rebuild customer relationships

by on June 30, 2012 in Blunders, Nuggets, Retail News

As the NatWest disaster continues to spark anger amongst its customers, Mark Smith, Managing Partner at Table19, examines what NatWest needs to do next in order to rebuild customer trust.

Positive customer relationships are fundamental for any business. Establishing a positive relationship with your customers from the beginning, will make them more likely to be forgiving when things go wrong; however when things do go wrong you need to have robust measures in place to manage your company’s image, retain customer loyalty and turn negative scenarios into business opportunities.

Ultimately if your customers are engaged they are more likely to continue to do business with you and recommend you to others. NatWest therefore must now focus on rebuilding and maintaining a strong, meaningful, positive personal relationship with its 7.5 million personal customers and one million business customers, built on trust as it begins to get services back online.

To do this the bank needs to establish a robust communication system, which puts the customer at the heart of the business and regularly inform and reward them for their continued business. Total transparency of the situation and its implications, and a high level of accessibility to bank representatives are vital. However whilst you also need to deliver targeted and effective communication, you have to ensure that you provide a fully rounded experience, which incorporates every need a customer may have, experience or encounter throughout their relationship with a given company.

One of the key ways to improve customer communications is through the creation of the customer journey. The customer journey starts at the consideration process even before a customer, becomes a customer, and travels through the stages which lead up to the point of purchase and through the key trigger points that follow.

Throughout the customer lifecycle you will find that your customers’ material and emotional needs will change. They will typically go through a range of ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ periods in relation to your brand so you need to develop a ‘customer journey’ that consists of rich, relevant and perfectly timed brand communications, which are designed to make customers feel like they are well looked after and in touch with your brand. This is essential for managing, influencing and responding to these changes.

These scenarios, especially in the case of NatWest, are obviously hard to predict. However, whilst a high level of dissatisfaction is unavoidable and expected in a scenario like this, the sheer level of discontent that has been shown towards NatWest over the past few days across message boards, forums and social media suggests that its relationship with its customers is perhaps not as robust as it would like to think. Despite the rarity of these scenarios they still need to be incorporated into the customer journey, to ensure that customers don’t become disengaged or dissatisfied with you when events like these occur.

If you fail to capture these scenarios properly and don’t create powerful brand engagement and affinity with your customers before there’s a problem, they’ll get frustrated. The relationship between a company or brand and their customers is therefore crucial and contributes to whether a customer will continue to do business with you or switch.

 

 

In the case of NatWest there are five key things it needs to do rebuild these customer relationships

Demonstrate that you care about your customers.

They are doing this now, but for some customers it’s a case of too little too late.

Speak to your customers

Empathy is the key here. Take time to listen and maintain a personal level of contact and deliver this through the channel best suited to the customer you are engaging with.

Show understanding

Refunds, discounts, special assistance, extra services all help to deflate customer dissatisfaction in the short term – but you need to act fast. No loyalty is gained from a refund or gesture that takes months to negotiate or authorise.

Show your customers what you are doing

Make sure your customers are aware that you are changing your processes and improving training across your business to avoid the same issues occurring again in the future and incorporate these changes into the customer journey.

Look to the future – turn the situation into your advantage

Make sure you turn these scenarios into positives, and to your advantage. If you can convert these customers, they may even become your biggest brand advocates and champion your company or brand to others.

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