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

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Page 4: Meeting customer needs

For an online bank, the key to meeting customer needs is good communication. Customers want to know that they can communicate their concerns with somebody who will understand the issues. first direct 's people therefore are central to the customer service function. Customers' experiences will be largely shaped by the quality of service they receive from the bank's employees.

Training and development has an important role in preparing employees to provide good customer service. first direct aims to be a destination employer. This means it expects employees to remain with the bank for a large part of their careers. It benefits the bank because long-serving colleagues and employees can use their experience to provide a better service for customers.

Employees are selected for their skills and personality. It is important that new employees are able to reflect the first direct brand and deliver the brand's service values. After appointment, new staff undergo six weeks of training (or nine weeks part time) with 65% of the time in a classroom environment and 35% integrating with dedicated coaches in the live working environment taking live calls. They also have ongoing coaching. The process of people development is designed to empower individuals to make decisions and take action in meeting the needs of customers. From the very start, new employees need to show a commitment to delivering high standards of customer service. In the first few days of training they engage with the culture of the business. They meet with their new team leader, listen to some live calls, experience the business values and understand how first direct treats its customers fairly. This helps them to understand the core values of customer service delivery.

Every piece of training at first direct is focused around servicing the customer to the highest standard. The course mixes technical or procedural aspects together with communication, sales, brand recognition, role plays and live call experience. The course appeals to all learning styles and preferences, because it provides a blended approach to learning. This involves classroom work with facilitators, innovative e-learning based training, listening to and taking live calls, plus dedicated coaches to help motivate and develop individuals.

Another way of meeting customer needs is through the bank's website. The website must be easy to use. This helps customers to complete their transactions. The first direct website is constantly monitored to look for areas of improvement. It has one of the best security systems in the banking industry to prevent fraud. first direct was also the first bank to develop a platform for iPhone banking. It is now possible for customers to receive real-time balances direct to their mobile phone.

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first direct | Using customer service to position a business