Page 5: External communication
The Alliance & Leicester has a public face or image. This conveys a message which affects or influences everyone who has dealings with the organisation. These include customers such as account holders and mortgagees, suppliers, competitors, the government, communities and agencies.
As a newly listed public company - around 67th in the FT-SE 100 – external communications are particularly important for the Alliance & Leicester as they influence how the organisation is viewed by others. External communications encompass all of the actions of the organisation as well as communications from it. Providing a positive image and reinforcing this through external communication helps to create a more positive working environment for the Alliance & Leicester. This enables it to gain a competitive advantage.
The Alliance & Leicester provides a range of information for different stakeholder groups. In addition to business letters sent to personal customers, written communications include:
- Press releases - These include information provided for the press relating to new products, interest rate changes or major business news. They are distributed by fax or post.
- RNS - Stock Exchange announcements.
- Advertorials - Nearly all forms of advertising by the Alliance & Leicester are based on written communication.
- Point of sale literature – Promotional literature is on display in branches and post offices.
- Branch posters - These are discrete ways of communicating a message.
- Mail shots - These are included with monthly statements or may be mailed individually.
- Statement messaging - This involves including important messages for customers on monthly statements.
2-way communications with customers
Using feedback from customers is becoming increasingly important for Alliance & Leicester as the industry becomes more competitive. Opportunities for 2-way communication exist through:
- Group Customer Relations – Customer complaints are a valuable source of information used to improve products and services wherever possible.
- Customer Relations provides a listening ear for customers who are unable to resolve problems with branches or administration centres. It communicates this feedback to senior management and also works with the Ombudsman and other regulatory bodies, to resolve customer issues which have been passed to them.
- A Customer Care Leaflet - Alliance & Leicester believe that customers have a wealth of information about services which could be used both for their benefit and for the organisation as a whole. This freely available leaflet allows customers to communicate their comments and suggestions to the Company.
This type of communication is particularly important for a range of issues affecting the various Alliance & Leicester stakeholder groups. These include:
- Alliance & Leicester Giro/Alliance Account - This provides 24 hour telephone and postal banking.
- Annual General Meeting - The Board of Directors hosts the meeting and answers shareholders’ questions after the business of the meeting is completed.
- Press Conferences - These are generally held to announce important business news such as the announcement by the Alliance & Leicester to convert to a Public Company.
- Analysts briefings - Alliance & Leicester holds formal briefings to inform analysts of its financial performance twice a year.
Good communication between businesses and the government is vital to the efficient operation of both. Without regular and established communication channels between the two, bad decisions and policy making could result from either side. Thus the Alliance & Leicester keeps government members and their advisory teams up-to- date with the Company’s views and intentions. Oral and written correspondence and regular meetings help the Alliance & Leicester meet the challenges of the complex and competitive world of financial services while helping government.