Archive | March, 2009

Out-trade Trevor

Play this nice trading game with Westpac, and get a feel for their cool trading and dashboard features, plus the light hearted video content.

Also interesting is the Westpac Market Map, an interactive tool to guide you through property purchase and management.

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NAB CEO talks of bridging the divide in trust

NAB CEO Cameron Clyne delivered a talk to the large and influential Australian Israeli Chamber of Commerce yesterday, highlighting the industries poor reputation in the eyes of the customer.


I want NAB customers to be confident that they will only pay fees for services they explicitly want.

“I want fees in our industry to be easily understood and transparent in a commonsense way, instead of merely meeting legal disclosure.”

Mr Clyne said NAB needed to lift its game to overcome public perceptions that “banks can be bastards”.

“To build long-term sustainable businesses into the future I believe our industry must act to improve its reputation,” he said.

To get there, he said, banks needed to do a better job of explaining why they sometimes needed to move interest rates independent of the Reserve Bank.

“Our failure to do this has only made the situation even more difficult for us now,” he said.

“We are stuck in a problem of our own making.”


I think its good that a CEO comes out with a statement like this, and acknowledges the real reasons why we battle to acquire or keep customers – if banks werent a necessary evil, would anyone use them in their current state??

Have you addressed the issue of fees, how they structured, how they are applied and even how they’re labelled? Have you made it easier for customers to understand how they work, or give them clear instructions on a user-pays basis? Or is a flat monthly fee preferred?

Does your customer servive quality justify the fees you’re charging?

Building reputation through actions, not words and marketing, is clearly the only way to establish and build trust.

PS Dave McQ sent me this ad by AVIVA, a spot with customers, both famous (Ringo and Elle come across as a bit odd) and not, asking for respect from their financial institution – the trick is, can they deliver?

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ANZ tops Cannex Customer Satisfaction Rating

From SmartCompany:

ANZ has been named as the bank with the most satisfied customers by financial services research firm Canstar Cannex.

ANZ, which was also named as the top bank in New South Wales and South Australia, narrowly tipped out the much smaller Bendigo Bank, which was named as the top bank in Queensland and Victoria.

Cannex surveyed more than 5000 on general customer satisfaction as well as specific questions about service at a branch, call centre and internet banking levels. Banks were assessed on friendliness, products and pricing and problem solving.

Cannex’s head of research, Steve Mickenbecker, says the biggest gripes related to fees and charges.

How did your bank go in the customer satisfaction awards?

Adelaide Bank
Likes: Good at friendly service, complaint handling.
Dislikes: Could improve branch service.

Likes: Has most satisfied customers nationally.
Dislikes: Internet banking relatively lesser rated.

Bank of Queensland
Likes: Strong in home state, friendly service. Good branch service, products, pricing.
Dislikes: Not-so-good call centre.

Likes: Runner-up – state of WA. Runner-up – internet banking.
Dislikes: Not so good at handling complaints.

Bendigo Bank
Likes: Australia’s friendliest bank. Top branch service.
Dislikes: Net banking not up to their other high ratings.

Commonwealth Bank
Likes: Strong rating in NSW.
Dislikes: Internet banking and staff friendliness not well rated.

Likes: Quite strong nationally and in particular in NSW and SA .
Dislikes: Call centre could improve and could be friendlier.

St George
Likes: Strong performance in SA with the Bank SA.
Dislikes: Problem handling not great.

Likes: Rated highly for call centre, branch service and complaint handling.
Dislikes: Internet banking could improve.

Likes: Performed well in Victorian and Queensland.
Dislikes: Customers not too happy with branch service.

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Innovation round up – March 09

Can banks really make customers truly happy or just not unhappy?

If there’s one of the main business metrics the banks want to do well at, its customer satisfaction – Roy Morgan seems to be the default industry wide number for us, and each month the numbers are scrutinised and analysed. Of course we all strive to make our customers happy and have a good experience with the bank, it makes sense to provide good service and retain their business. But for me (and some colleagues), its more about removing dissatisfaction than creating extremely happy customers – removing mediocrity and inconsistency and replacing it with a high average experience on a consistent basis is a secret to success.

Still, having said that, there are some customers, that, through a bank error or not, will never be satisfied with an outcome, or have had an experience so bad that it drives them to do extraordinary things – sharing it others on the web is the easiest thing to do. Some go to the length of creating websites, giving advice or tips, or even creating bank-alternative movements or media engines to bring the spotlight on our industry practices.

Whilst these sometimes make for painful or even comical reading, its important to understand the response dealing with banks can sometimes create. Whilst most customers say their relationship with their bank is not an emotional one, more based on rational, pragmatic reasons, the outcomes and reactions we instil in customers invokes real emotion and passion (other times pure apathy).

When did you last google ‘Bank’ and ‘hate’? Or ‘worst’ and ‘bank’? Or for that matter ‘best’ & ‘bank’ or ‘love’ & ‘bank’ (you wont find much).

And was the material you read a symptom of poor experience in

  • Product – feature, benefit, policy, function,
  • Process – application, dispute, management, completion
  • Channel – authentication, interaction, outcome, follow up, usability
  • Conversation – banker conversation, behaviour, manner, knowledge

What seems to be clear is that there are many banks, many alternatives for customers, and its simply too difficult to make every customer satisfied or avoid a poor experience. Big doesn’t necessarily mean better, but neither does small.

Is this something we can really achieve? We should certainly be striving to remove the bad as a priority and creating the outstanding where we can.



UNCRUNCH AMERICA – Creating credit alternatives for Americans – peer to peer lending for the current times

BANKS BID FOR BUSINESS – Was only a matter of time before banks started bidding for customers business – customers setting the rules and expectations here

WESABE SPRINGBOARD ALLOWS INTEGRATION INTO YOUR INTERNET BANKING – Use the power of Wesabe in your internet banking – account management, goals, groups, tips, widgets

UBANK RELEASES MONEY BOX EPISODE 3 – “We’ll cover the movement in the value of the Aussie Dollar, the factors that affect the Aussie Dollar and ways of trading in currency. Get the iTunes podcast” Good work UBankers.

WESTPAC HAVE A NEW SITE COMING – Watch the flash demo and see the refreshed look coming soon

MIKE WALSH’S VISION OF THE FUTURE OF FINANCE – “Is there a future for finance?’. As it happens, the answer to that question is yes, but not as you knew it. How the consumer experience of finance is set to change is something that I have been thinking about lately for some of my clients. Here are a few of my observations”.

USE YOUR IPHONE AS A CREDIT CARD PROCESSING UNIT – “Accept credit cards anywhere, anyplace, anytime on your internet connected iPhone. Never pass on a charge only opportunity or sale again!”

ONLINE VIDEO GAME TO OFFER REAL BANKING SERVICES – The Swedish Finance Supervisory has given preliminary approval in the form of a real banking license to video game maker, MindArk PE AB.

COMMBANK RAMP UP MOBILE BANKING OFFERING – iPhone offering now improved too. View the demos

DISRUPTIVE BANKING LETS YOU DESIGN YOUR OWN BANK – What does your perfect bank look like? challenges you to draw, write, film or shout a disruptive design of what a bank should be…

MAKE THE MOST OF THE LOW RATES – BofA have a campaign to leverage the low low rates

CREDIT CRISIS EXPLAINED IN THIS ANIMATED VIDEO – Slightly long, but that’s how complex this situation is! Excellent animation

DUEDEE – Impressive stock and portfolio social networking and information site

GOLDMAN SACHS HAVE A FEW IDEAS – The investment bank comments on a range of world issues

JIBUN BANK, MOBILE ONLY! – Why is Jibun Bank an innovation? Because it is designed purely and simply for mobile telephone access.

INSURER SMS TO CUSTOMER WHEN ROAD CONDITIONS ARE POOR – Imagine the saving here – 50c SMS instead of costly claim. Same thing is happening in health insurance.

DRESSED UP DEBT COLLECTORS – Would this make a difference? “Not sure what is most humiliating: To be confronted by someone wearing a ridiculous outfit – or being the employee who has to wear it?”

BANKS ON TWITTERWestpac, BofA, Wachovia, Wells Fargo, Chase, Banco Sabadell



ATM FEE TRACKER – Perhaps not a bank hater, but still critical and scrutinising of bank activity, this site provides updates and news on recent ATM fee changes as part of the direct charge legislation changes.

I HATE BANKS.COM.AU – “Contrary to what might be initial perceptions, this site is not all about Australian bank bashing, although there are enough facts in our Bank Horror Stories section to justify why one might want to do so.”

ONLINE OPINION BOARDS – Sites like ComplaintsBoard and Epinions offer a catalogue of ‘feedback’ for banks – it seems customers want their experience at least registered, acknowledged and added to the mass of other opinions.

THE PUBLIC DEFENDER – John Rolfe, Daily Telegraph journo, covers consumer stories on dodgy practices and policies – naturally, banks feature heavily.

MORTGAGE WATCHDOG – Helping customers find the right deal, and pay the fair amount for their mortgage – buy the video/software today!

TWITTER IS ACTIVE HERE – Just look at the comments that are casually thrown in here, and you can access a new set of upset people

BUSINESSWEEK HOSTS COMPLAINTS – Even old media brands like to harbour these kinds of comments

BITTER WALLET – General cynical commentary here, comical in parts, but worth looking at

RIPOFF REPORT – American site with over 400,000 complaints registered for all types of industries, but banks have a good collection here too

THEBANKSUCKS.COM – You can even ‘Tell Us Your Own Bank Horror Story’. A collection of stories from various brands, but more specifically … see below

BANKOFAMERICASUCKS.COM – A forum site allowing for discussions. Topics include Bank Of America Ruined My Credit; Employee Message Board; Credit Card Message Board

CHASESUCKS.COM – Chase has also suffered the same fate as BofA – this is quite an impressive site and collection of misery

MINT.COM – An aggregator that allows customers to use their own banking data to get a better deal.

WESABE – They believe “that one person’s good financial decision can be leveraged to an entire community.” Social networking for financial advice

CHOICE – As always the consumer watchdog is keeping an eye on bank proceedings, particularly the ATM direct charge activity

Right, that’s enough wallowing …



VISIT COMCAST TOWN – The telco takes you through a world of animation and imagination

MARIO GARCIA, GODFATHER OF NEWSPAPER DESIGN – Don’t be fooled, this man knows the power of the web

WATCH THE NEVER ENDING CAT WALK – Change the clothes on the ever wandering model to see how it looks

YOU WANT ME TO PUT MY SHOES WHERE? – For anyone who has flown recently, chances are that the airport security checkpoint — that travel spot where anxious passengers meet guards and their equipment — didn’t provide a very nice experience.

MCKINSEY TALKS ABOUT WHAT MATTERS – To our long tradition of client-driven research we’ve added a new tradition: knowledge derived from convening some of the best thinkers from around the world.

IDEAS CAMPAIGN – When you’re trying to get your country out of a slump, get your citizens to help! Ireland has.

SITE CREATES INCENTIVES FOR KIDS TO LEARN – SmartyCard allows kids to earn stuff they want by completing educational and grade appropriate activities. The rewards include subscriptions to their favourite virtual world or physical rewards such as books, video games, DVDs and toys.

IPHONE REPRESENTS 66% OF MOBILE DATA TRAFFIC – All whilst only having a single digit fraction of market share in handsets.

TOSHIBA UPSCALING – Interesting idea from TV maker – capturing movement and action

INNOVATION COMES FROM DEVELOPING COUNTRIES – Necessity is the mother of invention – when there’s no infrastructure, its time to be creative

DELIVERING DIGITAL BRITAIN – The Government has today published a plan to secure Britain’s place at the forefront of the global digital economy. v

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We’re all the same

Well, its been quite a delay since my last post, apologies. I know its crazy, but the real world has been sapping my involvement in the virtual world, but nonetheless my twitter activity (personal that is) has been active as always.

So what’s been going on?

During the past week, I attended the Direct Banking Strategy conference held by Charis and the team over at Banking Review Media. Speakers from a range of banks and vendors spoke about the current state of their businesses and the industry, 3 highlights below:

Gerd Schenkel spoke about the evolution of the UBank brand and offering, and its association or relationship with NAB, its parent. Some very good advice here on starting direct banks – choose to be an integrated channel in the current offering, a division of the bank with dedicated teams and expertise, or a standalone institution that operates on a separate platform and P/L.

Greg McAweeney, GM of, gave a very real and sobering presentation on general trends, social banking, communicating online, acquiring customers on the web and other topics. He spoke of the potential dawn of mobile banking after a series of stalled starts over the past few years. Oh and if you haven’t worked out your customer communication strategy for the web-powered world, start now.

Sam Plowman, Head Of Online Banking at ANZ, gave a rousing presentation titled ‘Innovate or Hibernate’ – on what he sees are the realities and inevitability of the online channel, as well as some of the more innovative new things to come from the ANZ Online team – Money Manager (a beta experiment with Yodlee, currently with 12k users) and SmartyPig (adopted from US version) were the 2 main features. Sam says account aggregation is coming whether we like it or not – not sure yet if I agree here due to privacy, customer apathy, bank willingness to participate – but there are clear attractions to it, and for me its 50/50 at this stage. Sam also made a good point that whilst we should compete on creating competitive advantage, there are some things the industry should come together on, like AML and security, to create universal standards and improvements before they are imposed on us by regulators.

Great presentations gentlemen, appreciate the candor and openness in front of your peers and competitors.

This conference simply told me that at this point we’re at similar positions, despite different opinions on specific topics – we’re all battling to meet customer needs, harness the wave of online, get the rest of our organisations to understand this relentless wave, and do some innovative and cool things.

You can see all the comments twittered here during the conference – Charis’ commentary has already been most useful to fill in the gaps in my own notes. Thanks for having me.

Other than the conference, like you my diary is relatively full with the obligatory meetings and working groups (why IS the default meeting time in Lotus Notes 1 hour and not 15 minutes – cant we get it all done quicker?). I also had the good fortune to catch up with counterparts from NAB, Datamonitor, Google, ARUP and social media technology expert Rob James. Thanks for your time, contact you this week.

Onward all, lets get cracking.

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Finally, we only need one number

Its been a long time since I first blogged about Grand Central, but finally, it looks like it will be seeing the light of day as a Google product since the time Google purchased it long ago. It seems it will be launching as Google Voice.

Whats Grand Central? Tech Crunch reviews here, and heres the Google definition

Google Voice is a service that gives you one number for all your phones, voicemail that is easy as email, and many enhanced calling features like call blocking and screening, voicemail transcripts, call conferencing, international calls, and more.

and heres a not very good definition from Wikipedia:

“GrandCentral is a free Google-owned[1] Internet service that uses VoIP[2] to link customers’ phone numbers together.[3] The service is currently in private beta, and no new invitations have been sent out since March 14, 2008.[4]

Whenever the customer’s GrandCentral number is called, the chosen phone(s) ring, allowing the customer to answer his or her chosen phone. The phones can be chosen based on time of day; for example, the home phone can be turned off during business hours, and based on groups (Family, Friends, Work, Web Button, Others) or personalized based on an address book.”

At the same time, Google has decided to fold its Google Checkout application – off you go PayPal …

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