09 October 2009

How to Ignore the Customer

A case study on how not to attempt a marketing campaign has just launched in Austria. The BawagPSK bank announced its new "Unternehmen Österreich" campaign. It is a well intended, but however badly advised, effort to regain lost trust with their customers. Because, it will destroy trust. Why?

First of all, the problem of lost trust cannot be healed by telling people: "Trust me." A better approach would be to behave in a trustworthy way: in all branches, in all dealings and in all interactions with clients. This is hard work, yes, very hard (much harder than airing some commercials). And, it takes time and a lot of effort on the ground. However, BawagPSK is on the right track on this, see my post from January.

Second, in advertising school we learned, once the CEOs and/or animals appear in commercials, then the ad agency has not targeted the company´s clients, but the executives. Would the BawagPSK executives like the ad campaign? I bet! Do customers gain any immediate, specific benefit? I doubt it. So, why should customers be interested in listening to it?

Third, the campaign Web site has been announced as an interactive platform. If this would be a joke, then it would be a cruel one. The so-called interaction on the internet site is limited to that you can click on pictures of executives which produces pop-up windows (boring).

Then you can read their great ideas! Yeah, that´s what customers were waiting for.... In reality, interactivity in the Web2.0 era means a real dialogue with customers. And, banks do not have a choice in this. See the Bank of America Debtor Revolt Begins Now, here and here. Better to give them a voice on your own terrain, than have them complain in youtube.

Fourth, clients need banks they can trust. The ideas and the concept of making banking business transparent, simple and safe are correct.
However, the most damaging advertising is that which promises too much. Because, when clients enter a retail bank branch and have high expectations on the "Unternehmen Österreich" promise, but if then get badly disappointed, that creates a terrible damage to the brand and destroys the trust they had.

Fifth, what really is missing in this campaign are the customers. The stilted dialogues in the videos do not invoke a real need in the viewer. What, you got loans? What a surprise, I knew that! Banking clients do have real needs in dealing with banks, but they are sorely lacking in that campaign.

Sixth, today customers do have choices and are better informed than ever. The real proof of the pudding is in the eating. People decide about their relationships with banks on the basis of their real world experience:
  • how they are greeted in the branch (not!),
  • if the teller get´s up from his butt to serve the long queue (is not),
  • if transactions are processed correctly all the time (who cares?),
  • if the bank manager takes responsibility for service mistakes (does not), etc. etc.
No news here: the retail banking business is a service business, and it is tough to deliver great service all the time for every customer. Therefore, it is easier to launch a nice ad campaign.

However, it does not work, because banks have no place to hide. Customers look through the advertising veil and judge on the performance they actually receive. Today. Tomorrow. Every day. In every branch.

1 comment:

Jeff Ogden said...

You make a good point, Andreas. Trust is earned over time through demonstrations of acts that earn trust. Banks that say "Trust Us" don't accomplish anything.

Jeff Ogden, President
Find New Customers