This button’s the boss!
Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat.
And our wallets and purses are getting thinner as we spend on a ton of stuff that we probably don’t actually need.
You know the type of things.
The must have toys that are discarded after 5 minutes of play. The trinkets and gimmicks that no one really wants but we buy anyway, just for the sake of giving.
Of course, we blame heavy marketing tactics.
Who can refuse a well-behaved toddler the gift of their dreams, even though we know they will have more fun playing with the box?!
The holidays definitely offer consumers a highly emotive end user experience.
Whether it’s because you want to make your family members smile and spread a little holiday cheer, or because you want to keep up with the Jones’ as opposed to coming across as a complete Scrooge…
Either way, it’s easy to go wild in the aisles on a customer spending spree.
But at what cost?
Christmas is renowned as being the time of year when most people get into debt from over-spending.
Apparently, last year British families spent an average of £830 on gifts, food, booze and decorations. This spending was up 1.3 percent on Christmas 2016.
So, there’s every likelihood that the total will increase again this year.
Frightening, especially considering that the average, net annual disposable income in the UK is around £27,000.
Yes, we Brits spend over 3% of our annual income on Christmas tat and gluttony!
Of course, unnecessary spending isn’t just restricted to the holidays.
I definitely know people who splash out on a new outfit or pair of shoes simply because they are having a bad day.
It’s the emotive end-user experience that marketers dream of.
And then, of course, there are people that have addictions.
The drinker who absolutely must have that next bottle of vodka.
Or the gambler who can’t walk past the bookies without stopping in for a flutter.
They say money is the root of all evil, and there is definitely some truth in that.
It can be a nightmare for people to try and curb their spending. And we can’t blame it all on advertising and other pushy marketing techniques.
Sometimes, the lure is just too appealing to resist.
And it can easily lead to a person’s financial downfall.
Debt is a curse that bring s a lot of other problems crashing down with it.
We’ve all heard of marriages collapsing because of money problems.
If only there was a magic button that we could press to stop excessive spending before it got us into trouble.
Barclays to the rescue
Well, now there is!
Barclays Bank have installed a button on their mobile banking app that enables consumers to choose where they can spend their money.
The feature was launched with vulnerable customers in mind, particularly those with addiction, with the aim of helping them to get better control of their finances.
Addicted to online gaming? You can stop yourself spending money on gambling websites.
Can’t walk past an off licence or pub without stopping in? Press the button and you’ll spend no more!
Basically, it allows end-users to choose which retailers they can spend money with.
If you have ‘turned off’ a particular retailer and try to part with cash in their store, the transaction will be automatically declined.
At the moment, the app is only available to debit card customers, but Barclays intend to roll it out to credit card users in the near future too.
It’s intended that the feature – which was developed based on research from the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute set up by consumer champion Martin Lewis – will help consumers take greater control of their actions.
It will also make people less susceptible to scams and fraud.
Pushing the right buttons
Of course, Barclays can’t make people turn off their ability to spend at certain shops, bars or online outlets, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
Frankly, it’s astounding.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s the perfect customer experience.
Ok, it might piss off those that take the plunge and turn of their spending in the interim.
But they’ll be grateful for it in the long run. And their bank balance certainly will appreciate it.
And it’s certainly a far cry from retailers encouraging us to spend so they can fill their coffers.
Let’s face it, the majority of businesses out there don’t really care that they suck us in and get ourselves into financial dire straits.
It’s not like we can pick up the phone and call up a customer feedback management team with a tirade of: “I bought too many pairs of shoes this month and can no longer afford to pay my rent. And it’s all your bloody fault for selling nice shoes!”
So, such a control tool is a real blessing and it’s hoped that other financial institutions will see the light and follow suit.
At the moment, consumers can turn off spending across five retail groups: groceries and supermarkets, restaurants, takeaways, pubs and bars, petrol and diesel, premium rate websites and phone lines and gambling websites and betting shops.
It’s a real coup for customers as it will give them a simple, secure and much better way to manage their money.
Ok, so I know that it’s only going to be a service that can be offered by the likes of banks and building societies but it’s certainly a very positive step in putting consumers and their needs first and foremost.
And it’s something that will make others sit up and listen.
End users are at the forefront of what we do. They are the reason we stay afloat.
(Businesses wouldn’t exist if end-users got themselves in so much debt that they could never cross a company’s threshold again!)
So, let’s show them that we care.
I know, I know, you’re not going to turn people away from your business if they want to spend their hard-earned cash with you this Christmas.
But perhaps you could earn yourself some good karma by lightening the load a little?
How about a nice BOGOF offer? Or a special discount for returning, loyal consumers? Or a special discount on products or services for the New Year?
If Barclays can save people from drowning in debt, maybe you can help to make life easier too?
Go on, find out what your customers want and spread a little holiday cheer!
After all, it may be as simple as pressing a button.