Customer-led innovation in a competitive market
An Abbey case study

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Page 5: Communicating with the internal audience

In service organisations such as Abbey, employees are the most important organisational resource. In financial services a high proportion of employees are regularly involved in face-to-face and other forms of direct communications with customers (e.g. in call centres). So it was vital that all employees fully understood Abbey's new approach.

Because Abbey is a large organisation made up of branches, many of which are geographically distanced from Head Office, Abbey's culture (typical way of working) could not be changed overnight. Abbey set aside 60,000 extra training days to ensure that the new way of communicating with customers became firmly embedded in employees' day-to-day practice. In addition Abbey hired 600 dedicated customer services staff in branches and telephone centres to further meet the demands of customers needs.

Abbey selected a small, dedicated team to be responsible for the change programme within the overall organisation. Secrecy was essential, because a key aim is to make Abbey different from its rivals, and it is commonplace within the financial services industry for organisations to copy each other's best ideas.

To ensure maximum impact, the internal communications campaign to employees was delivered in a relatively short period of time in 2003:

23rd Sept Inform 500 top tier managers and 2500 other managers.

24th Sept Supply all other staff with a briefing pack.

External communications quickly followed:

24th Sept Inform the press

24th Sept Alert the wider public, with the first advertisement slotted within 'Coronation Street' - the programme with the largest audience (approx. 15 million viewers)

Sept-Dec Conduct a phased campaign to customers.

Abbey | Customer-led innovation in a competitive market
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