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Are you ready for a summer of love?

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Poor old UK banking – it’s had a rough ride over the past few years. Yes, you might say they brought it on themselves but that’s not how we get children to learn from their mistakes. And yes, just like the most demanding toddler out there, banks have been rebelling. It’s understandable – the world order is changing and they’re not at the centre of things anymore. Unless the centre of the Earth is made up of financial irregularities and massive ego trips…

Transitions are always hard. Toddlers – sorry, bankers – have found it difficult to understand their new place in the pecking order, but there might be some light at the end of the tunnel. Get that reward chart ready because today, one of their cohort has removed themselves from the naughty step.

At the British Bankers’ Association’s annual conference, the chief exec of Lloyds, Antonio Horta-Osorio, has told his profession that they should stop complaining about new regulations and focus on customers.

Did I hear that right?

You did. Banks need to focus on customers. Now I understand that my TMP faithful take this kind of information as a given – you are the wisest of the wise (you’re reading my blogette – what else could you be?) – but for bankers this must have been quite a bombshell. I just hope they had counsellors on hand for the coffee break.

You’ll never guess what happened after that – Antonio continued his speech with more common sense. He told the already reeling crowd that “the regulatory burden will only stop growing once the public and regulators trust banks to manage the sector in a responsible manner.” Someone who finally understands – banks are drowning in red tape because they don’t treat customers fairly. Treat customers right and they’ll free themselves from some of the bureaucracy that currently watches their every move.

Great – but I’m not living in a bureaucratic nightmare.

I’m pleased for you, but TMP’s hero-for-the-day Antonio also said that “clearing up our reputation will take time and there will be challenges along the way.” Now that’s got a lot to do with every business – and it’s what The Monachie Project does best. Our consumer experience research gets to the heart of your market and provides a solution to problems – before they start to eat into your profits or affect your long-term reputation.

If you still think you’re damage-proof, take a moment to refresh your memory of some minor disasters gone large and then come back for a bit of soul-searching.

Are you feelin’ the love?

What do you really feel towards your customers? Be honest now – you’ll feel better for getting it off your chest, I promise. Do they get in the way of your office socials and networking events, or are your customers the centre of your universe? And are you sure you know what it is they want from you?

Some successful businesses have a great concept, others – lucky them – have a lot of financial backing – but there’s only one thing they all have in common: great timing.

You need to feel the heartbeat of your market and know what the key emotive drivers are so that you can launch your business, your new product line, you latest offer at exactly the right moment. If you do this, customers and prospects will feel like you ‘get’ them and we all know that consumers like to see themselves reflected in the businesses they use.

Show some respect

If you really care about your customers, you’ll pay attention while they’re talking – or posting, or tweeting. We live in an age where we can find out exactly how we’re doing at any given time. That’s business gold! Respond to customers’ comments – good and bad – and you’re not just solving a problem, you’re building brand loyalty. We all love to be heard and we love to be cared about even more.

Think back to our friend at Lloyds. His institution was the most complained about bank in the second half of 2014 – and not only did the financial ombudsman receive 24,245 complaints about them, but 74% of them were resolved in favour of the complainant. It’s probably a great relief to their 22 million customers that the chief’s finally recognised their presence.

Metrics will get you so far, but nothing beats the personal touch when it comes to understanding your customers. I know you’ve got a lot packed into your day already without adding a couple of hour’s chin-wagging on the shop floor, so I want you to know that The Monachie Project is here for your business. Our consumer research consultancy will have you – and your customers – feeling the love in a jiffy.

Get in touch to get your summer of love off to a great start. Just promise me you’ll hang up first. No, you hang up…missing you already…

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