Greetings and welcome to the regular Thursday television review and this week I have a new docu-soap from the BBC about the life of a high street bank. With the promise of revealing the inner workings of the high street bank this show offered, I was kind of excited to see what would happen. A well made fly on the wall show can be most revealing and despite the inevitable cut to the news reports of the financial crisis and it’s impact on how people view the banks and the staff therein. We start by finding that since the crash the bank now has only one target for it’s staff a customer service score. The first event and customer we meet is a man who has a complaint about a delayed cheque which I have always thought was a banking scam 3 days to clear a cheque yeah right of course it does. Needless to say the man was unhappy at the delay and the fact he had been informed that it would clear sooner or so he had thought.
It does not take long to see that the staff of the high street banks are working hard to make customers ‘extremely satisfied’ in bank customer service jargon, but have little power to affect how people perceive banks and there processes. We are also witness to the the irony of a bank looking to the Disney corporation a company known for it’s anti-liberal, anti-communist and frankly totalitarian rules for living at it’s Golden Oak town seems to have been missed by the management of the bank. The customers we are introduced to in this the first episode are all in debt to various degrees and for various reasons. The endemic misleading and miss-selling that follows has built up a level of mistrust between banks and customers not seen since the 1920’s. It wasn’t untill 20 minutes into the show that the staff’s diligence for the customer service KPI became clear, a bonus was at stake for the staff.
The most startling fact was that the manager of this branch made less than £30,000 PA which is peanuts to the salaries and bonuses of the city bankers we hear so much about. The managers frank honesty about the mistakes of the past including the miss-selling by high street branches was refreshing to hear and bodes well for the future of the banking industry if replicated industry wide. The final part of the show focused on two customers and the staff themselves firstly we met a woman who had clocked up £30,000 worth of debt and was due in court for failure to keep up mortgage repayments, she had gone in branch for some help and was given some clear advice and budgeting advice which seemed to help give the woman a clearer idea of her position and debt she was in. The second customer we met was a man called Chris who had clocked up £12,000 of debt on a family holiday to the USA and who was looking into changing his mortgage in the hope of paying it off before he retired. Chris was to later find out that the help offered by the bank wasn’t actually available and had given a negative customer service score, he did provide the quote of the episode with this gem ” What benefit is there in being loyal to a bank? who’s interests are they looking out for? it certainly ain’t mine” to right Chris to right.
Finally we got a glimpse at the staff and there lives in and out of the bank from the customer adviser who spends his day helping people sort out there finances yet doesn’t have the same discipline with his own, or the young life insurance woman who’s dad thinks going to the cinema is a waste of money and was more of miser than scrooge, to another adviser who tried to get to know her customers by prying into there lives in the hope that this would make them ‘connect’ and feel more relaxed in doing business. Unfortunately for the staff we dicovered that the 60% KPI target was missed by only 0.5% which naturally didn’t go down well but seemed to make the staff more determined to make it next time good luck with that. In conclusion this was an enteraining insight into the world of high street banking a fairly boring subject matter which is a achievement in of itself I look forward to seeing more of the staff and there trials over the coming episodes. So until next week I am off to run up £100,000 of debt playing golf on the moon.