Using customer service to position a business
A first direct case study

Page 3: Customer expectations

All first direct customers have needs: they want banking services. They also have expectations about how these services should be delivered. To meet these expectations, first direct has to know what its customers want (and what they might want in the future). To find out more, first direct carries out market research.

Market research is a process that enables a business to find out more about its customers and markets. It provides direct feedback that can be used to build and refine services. first direct collects a range of data that identifies market trends through several research activities:

  • First Impressions involves contacting new customers shortly after they join the bank. This primary market research helps the bank to assess their initial experiences of banking with first direct .
  • Voice of the Customer is a programme of research that is conducted monthly amongst existing customers who have taken out a new product with first direct over the last couple of months.
  • Focus groups, consisting of small groups of customers, are also held regularly to provide qualitative feedback on specific topics and issues.
  • Quantitative research provides robust and representative feedback on a range of specific issues.

The information generated by market research helps those within the organisation to understand more fully what existing and potential customers want. For example, focus group results indicate that first direct customers want the company to be different and distinct from other banks. Market research also helps to identify very specific features that customers want. It has confirmed that customers want a 24-hour service. They also want the reassurance of being able to speak to a person rather than an automated machine. In a competitive market where customers are able to shop around for services, it is important for first direct to make sure that it gets its customer service right.

Market research also provides valuable information about how first direct 's services are perceived and experienced by customers. Research data shows that first direct has been ahead of its competitors in achieving overall customer satisfaction. It also shows that it is ahead of the competition in achieving customer satisfaction for an internet banking and a telephone banking service.

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