Page 4: Communicating with customers
Good communication involves transmitting clear messages, as is demonstrated by the interaction between Abbey and its customers. Abbey uses a range of methods to communicate with its customers, including:
- Letters to all customers written in a simple, intelligible language. Prior to its relaunch, Abbey used 2000 different types of standard letters to customers. These have been simplified and rationalised.
- New literature, cheque books and cards. For example: Abbey's 50-page Winter Warmer Catalogue for 2003-2004 sets out in simple detail all the financial products Abbey provides for personal customers.
- New advertising built around the theme 'turning banking on its head' and a national campaign was developed around different media channels, including TV, Press, Outdoor and Branch. Abbey has spent £11 million on this campaign.
- Abbey has also engaged in dynamic new promotional techniques as part of "turning banking on its head" including placing over 16,000 wallets containing fake £50 bank notes in major city locations such as shopping malls, bars etc. in Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and Glasgow. Each wallet contained exciting promotional material encouraging the finder to contact Abbey to find out more. This approach was considered a break with the traditional communication methods used by banks in general.
Abbey is committed to eliminating complex financial jargon, and to communicating with customers in terms they can understand.
Part of the simplification process involved reducing the number of Abbey current accounts from six to just one and simplifying the range of mortgages and savings accounts. Research highlighted that customers have become baffled by the vast array of mortgages and savings accounts available and simply do not know where to start to find the right solution for their needs. So Abbey set about reclassifying its range of mortgages and savings accounts into 3 simple types, clearly demonstrating which mortgages or savings would be right for the customer, depending on their individual needs.
Abbey has also reduced the number of its brands to concentrate on core brands such as Cahoot, (Abbey's Internet bank) and a few other major brands.
Abbey has developed an effective website and recognises the importance of clear, direct communications with customers through this medium. It has also developed a state-of-the-art intranet system for communications within Abbey.