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Creating a cool and fair bank

Interesting reaction to yesterday’s kick-off about a new bank, with the responses being in three buckets: where’s the customer focus, how are you going to make money and what about the small business (SME) client?

I’ll address those through the week, but want to start with the first as it strongly relates to culture.

The customer focus is clear, but the first thing is to clearly define the customer.

My customer is not a demographic.

They are not old or young, white or black, catholic or jewish, ABC1 or unemployed, male or female … they are none of these things but may be some of these things.

My customers will cover any bases they want, and I won’t predefine those bases.

I have no target client base except one: those who want to deal with a cool and fair bank through the mobile internet.

That will attract its’ own client profile.

You may say that I’m wrong, and need to be far more marketing savvy but the people who want to deal with a cool and fair bank through the mobile internet have no predefined definitions.

They may be young or old, they may be black or white, they may be catholic or jewish, they may be ABC1 or unemployed (there are plenty of unemployed smart people out there with money!), they may be male or female … and we will have specific areas in our mobile internet channels of service that cater for diversity and specifically target the needs of ethnicity, religion and gender in a cool and fair way.

So what is my bank’s customer?

My bank’s customer is one that wants to deal with a 21st century bank in a cool and fair way, and to be treated like a human.

My marketing programme would therefore focus upon using social interaction online to attract viral amplification.

It would make it clear what cool and fair banking over the mobile internet means, and how to engage with us.

It would twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube its services to build a fanbase.

It would dialogue online in a hugely human way.

And it would be transparent in fees and approach.

It would build its processes based upon the customer outside-in view of the interactions and user experience people desire, and it would target to overcome the things that piss off most people, such as lock-in fees, hidden charges, balloon payments on overdrafts and so on and so forth.

It would make it clear what ‘fair’ means, by defining this and making sure it is practiced in everything we preach.

A bit like Google’s “don’t be evil”, even though they sometimes appear to be, my new bank’s motto would be “don’t screw the customer”, and we’d make it clear how we would avoid doing that.

We would support customers joining our “screw loose lounge” where they could rant and rave and discuss and debate, and we would have a “live and unscrewed” section for staff and management to air their hang ups and thumbs ups.

All of this would mean that my hiring policy has to be to hire cool and fair people who get the mobile internet, so my hiring would be redefined by a culture of who got the tweet: “do you want to work for a cool and fair bank?”

Those applying would be vetted based upon did they smile and did they pick up the £20 note I left on the floor in the corner and give it back.

We would therefore create a happy culture of cool and fair people who get the mobile internet, and this happy culture would create happy customers who like cool and fair banking from a bank that gets the mobile internet.

We would also define 'cool' in our own way.

A cool bank is  a bank that people want to be with, either as a customer or working for the bank.

Like Apple is thought of as cool, this bank will differentiate its brand based upon being clearly interested in the customer, responsive, modern, transparent and honest.

In other words, a fair bank that gets the mobile internet.

Don’t get me wrong.

None of the above is easy, simple or can happen that fast.

But it would be worth a try wouldn’t it?

Tomorrow I’ll look at how we’ll make money …and thanks to all for reactions to the first post. Appreciate it, and will respond individually over the week.


About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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  • Kemal

    You use the word cool a tad too many times Chris. Since when have banks been cool? And more to the point for a bank to use that word to try and connect with potential clients, they would need to have proven their right to use that description before shouting it from the rooftops. I applaud the idea and would love to see it thrive, especially in this socially driven digitql age, but you need to put up first, as all our socially aware target audience are aware… Just my two penneth worth….

  • Cool vision, Chris. In 1983, I opened account with the first bank in Germany that offered 24h service through what was named later ATMs. That was way cool then. Looking for an unscrewed on-line bank now, who get what technology and trust in concert can get done. Willing to co-create 😉
    How about drawing up a few business models? Book and tools via http://businessmodelgeneration.com
    Disclosure: one of 470 co-authors, unpaid, received one free copy.