Focussing on what's good for the customer is good for companies!

15.10.08 09:06 AM By S.Swaminathan

What's the lesson for banks and financial services companies in this hour of financial crisis?

Thad Peterson has lovely post on topic.He writes:

The lesson…when you start and finish by thinking of the best interest of the customer, and you manage your business prudently, you rarely go wrong. So, what now?

A few banks, the banks that you don’t see in the headlines, have been focusing on that all along. This idea was brought home to me by a person from one of the banks that’s actually doing just fine right now. One of the key reasons that they’re doing just fine is that they didn’t make high risk mortgages. Why? Not because they thought the risk was too great, not because it wasn’t in their strategy, but BECAUSE IT WASN’T IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THEIR CUSTOMERS TO MAKE THOSE LOANS. Think of it, bankers realizing that putting a customer in an over-leveraged loan was a bad idea for that customer. No doubt a lot of those customers ended up with loans from other institutions, but this bank didn’t make that loan.

The customer will re-emerge as the center of the banking universe. Banks will realize that core deposits and basic lending products are the most important assets on their balance sheets, that their customers are the ones who own those products, and there will be a shift to acquiring and retaining customers as a core strategy.

Then, it’s about execution. Some banks will decree a "focus on the customer" and continue to deliver lousy service at a high price. A few will take a hard look at their organization and realize that they need to completely re-align, re-train their customer service teams and aggressively coach their front-line managers. And one or two will continue to do exactly what they were doing before because they never stopped thinking about what was best for the customer.

A.P. Giannini, the founder of Bank of America said, “If an institution becomes great, it is usually by the consent of the people it serves.” At this time, in this place, truer words were never spoken.

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