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The voice of the customer

I was pointed to this article in the weekend’s Daily Wail by the one and only Duena Blomstrom, and it makes for great reading.  It’s all about the death squeals of consumers and journalists as they see the last bank in the village leave.  Here’s the list of HSBC bank branch closures this year alone:

hsbc-branch-closures

What the media and customer doesn’t necessarily get is that the idea that banks reach into the deepest and more remote parts of the country with a physical entity no longer makes sense.  When you’re only getting 10 customers a day in the branch, having two or three staff there makes no sense.  Equally, even in larger town centres, if the branch is purely existing to serve the business customers and the business customers no longer deal in cash, the models are unsustainable.  That’s why banks are closing branches at an increasingly faster pace.  I’ve actually said many times that the traditional bank branch network is at least five times, if not ten times, larger than it needs to be and 80% of that network needs to shut down.   That’s coming true in most developed economies – bear in mind, it’s not the same in developing economies – and banks get the idea that they need a smaller physical footprint as they ramp up their digital footprint.

Anyways, the main reason that the Daily Wail’s article caught my attention is for the comments, so I thought I’d share a few highlights.

Why people want branches:

LZ Roberts, Falmouth, 20 hours ago

Once you have no branches, once it is all digital and contactless, there can be no bank runs. Then they can introduce negative interest rates, bail ins and can just take your money. And there will be

Chaywest, Leicester, 20 hours ago

Correct, remember what happened to the people’s deposit accounts in Cyprus? The government took 50% of their savings..

Manchesterblue123, Manchester, United Kingdom, 19 hours ago

Chay the government took the money from savings accounts but Cyprus is a cash society they just invoked a control law which meant you couldn’t make a run on the bank. World doesn’t need to be cashless for them to stop you accessing your money

Willem de Leeuw, Winchester, United Kingdom, 10 hours ago

Wrong, you could still have bank runs, it’s just that they’ll be online. Everything you say can happen with or without cash and branches. Going fully cashless is very unlikely anyway: if England withdraws notes then simply use other countries’ currencies if you want banknotes.

So speaks the voice of rationale:

Sinead, Belfast, 20 hours ago

my goodness.. the world is moving on. more customers are using online and mobile banking. i cant remember the last time i walked into an actual branch. If they arent needed and customers arent using them then surely it makes good business sense to shut them? wouldnt you rather they used the money saved from running expensice, empty branches to pass on value for money to customers?? catch a grip DM! your headline could be flipped.. HSBC waste £XXXXXXXXX running expensive branch network which is only used by 30% of customers!!!

Evie, Vancouver, Canada, 20 hours ago

I refuse to do online banking on one of my accounts. I have a lot of money (company) going through the account and I feel they can do the work, not me! Banks would love us all to do the job of the teller and they just take our money, use our money, and charge us for doing so. If you think the bank is going to pass on savings to you, the customer, you’re living in LALA Land. Hong Kong, Shanghai Banking Corporation are making plenty of money to carry the loss, that’s what doing business is all about – a presence. If I had a bank that was closing locally, I would move my account, simple.

Chaywest, Leicester, 20 hours ago

Yes living in LALA land, they will charge more for less and the banks will know exactly how much you earn and where you are spending and sell your details to companies that will target you through your spending habits.

Here’s one from the not so tolerant guy:

TolerantGuy, London, United Kingdom, 19 hours ago

HSBC push your call into non English speaking call centres. Almost impossible to understand their dreadful English.

Manchesterblue123, Manchester, United Kingdom, 19 hours ago

In fairness probably better than your Indian

John, London, United Kingdom, 18 hours ago

@Manchesterblue123 – In fairness he doesn’t need to speak Indian (incidentally the official language is Hindu not Indian).

IceMan London, Hounslow, United Kingdom, 17 hours ago

@John….. to correct you the official language is HINDI not Hindu that’s the religion.

Manchesterblue123, Manchester, United Kingdom, 13 hours ago

To correct you both there is no national language and 22 official languages in India

And how do the staff feel about this?

Sasface, Sniff land, United Kingdom, 1 day ago

Think of us staff! We have been working for them for 20 odd years and want to give the best service like we always have but we are so short staffed there’s days where it’s so busy they are out the door and we don’t get a drink or a break. Then rather than being able to have a laugh with a customer we have to serve so quickly because the customer is tutting and ranting int he queue. I could cry most days! Therefore we try and get them to use the machines just so we can get the queue down for customers and staff. Customers say I come to the counter to keep you in a job when actually it doesn’t matter if you do or don’t as the top management will make the decisions regardless. Think about the poor staff – we don’t want to give bad service.

I particularly liked this one as it’s completely off topic:

James Bennington, london, United Kingdom, 19 hours ago

Oh you’re worried now? Just wait until brexit properly kicks in, hahaha … the Brextards are really going to suffer, they don’t even know it yet , that’s the most pathetic part.

D R, Woking, 18 hours ago

Yes, we should be worried when the investment banks quit the UK. Financial services fund the UK, without them we may as well give up.

This has nothing to do with Brexit – stupid comment.

John, London, United Kingdom, 18 hours ago

No what’s pathetic is dumb people like you believing that Brexit is going to cause all these problems when the system is in such dire straits that the problems are unavoidable regardless. Leaving the EU dictatorship means we’ll recover from what is coming faster than being with the EU dictatorship.

willis, buderim, 18 hours ago

Try blaming the global financial crisis of 2008- from which the world has still not recovered- nothing to do with Brexit.

I could list many more, but would urge you to just spend some time reading the voice of the customer.

Daschund, carlisle, United Kingdom, 22 hours ago

h.s.b.c.does that stand for HOLY S–T BLOW the CUSTOMER,lets get the hell out of here.

 

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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