By Andy Golding, CEO
Like many people, I rely on my online banking service and would find it almost impossible to imagine my life without it. In this increasingly fast moving world, I find its convenience both essential and reassuring, especially when I want to do things quickly. I love the fact that I can access my savings via my laptop, smartphone and, more than ever, the popular unnamed tablet device that I am all too attached to. This level of access helps me manage the simple tasks associated with my online savings whilst on the move. However, it is only one of the ways I want to use to manage my money, and that’s the same for many of our customers as well.
You’ll probably be aware that only recently; a high street bank announced that plans to close more than 99 branches, a sign of yet more of the cost cutting that the digital era of online banking has precipitated. It makes me realise why there is a place for doing things differently. When I speak to customers they ask for something different and want a little more flexibility.
We know that some customers aren’t comfortable with online banking, so should they be forced into it just because it suits the bank? Of course not. For these customers, branches often play a key role in their banking experience. They like speaking with people face to face and want a personal service. They like the recognition and two way interaction that regularly visiting a branch can bring. We see our branches as opportunity to meet and interact with our customers. To prove that point, we are investing in our branch network by refurbishing and even replacing them where necessary. Having opened a new branch in Canterbury in 2012, we are turning our attention towards Hempstead and Gravesend, both of which are on target to be quite different by the end of the year.
That’s our online and branch focus. But some customers simply like picking up the phone to do their banking, preferably to speak to a human voice and not one that is recorded.
This seems like a lengthy way of saying that customers like to choose how they interact with banks and in a world where it is increasingly easy to be remote, we continue to talk and listen to our customers and then invest in the things that they want.
Our aim is keep our customers at the heart of the Kent Reliance brand, able to access their savings on their own terms. So whilst I’ve typed this article on the PC, edited and sent it on my tablet whilst on the train home, I may just call the editor to check if he’s received it and then arrange our next face to face meeting; if multi-access channels work for our customers, it works for me too.