To say RBS’s reputation has taken a nosedive in recent years – particularly with small businesses – would be something of an understatement. But the UK’s largest business bank is desperate to win back your trust: “We want to be the bank that helps you out, not the bank that catches you out,” says Personal & Business Banking Chief Executive Les Matheson.
‘Obsessed With Customer Service’?
Back in February, in a blog post entitled ‘Becoming Obsessed with Customer Service,’ Les Matheson acknowledged the bank’s “difficult times.” “We’ve had some bumps along the way,” he admitted, “but the bumps we’ve had we’ve tackled head on.”
Discussing the changes RBS were making, he declared: “We’re focusing less and less on price promotions and more and more on what’s in the best interests of the customer.” He cited the bank’s stand against unfair payday loan broker fees and ‘free trial’ scams as proof that the bank was “committed to making sure our customers have the best possible banking experience – even if that means standing up for their rights in other fields.”
“We’ve started along the road to becoming the number one bank for trust and advocacy by 2020,” Mr Matheson said confidently in his post.
Access for All?
However, in an interview with the BBC last week, he found himself defending branch closures. “Customers are just not using the branches as much as they have,” he said. “Customers are telling us they actually want to use mobile, they want to use online, they want to use different ways of accessing the bank and we have to move with the times.”
Customers without online access can use RBS mobile banks or their local Post Office, he says. “We think that that is a good thing for the local community because we are obviously paying the Post Office for that service.”
Mr Matheson also spoke about the bank’s commitment to fair and easy to understand banking, with no ‘teaser rates’ or introductory promotional pricing, and said that staff are no longer offered financial incentives to sell products, but instead may receive a bonus as part of a branch team, “based upon levels of customer satisfaction.”
Rates Drop for Businesses
Meanwhile, in a bid to please business customers, Alison Rose, chief executive of RBS’s commercial and private banking arm, told the The Times that RBS is halving unauthorised overdraft fees for business customers and reducing the maximum monthly penalty fees that a small business can incur. She admitted that this means profits will fall, but said, “we feel this is the right and fair thing to do.”
FSB National Chairman John Allan welcomed the news. “Over the past few years there have been a number of issues which have led to small business confidence in the banking sector being undermined,” he said. “The measures being taken by RBS are an example of the sort of steps banks should be considering to help rebuild trust among small firms.”
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