Money Insider: Co-op service move should be a blueprint for banking

The message that consumers are fed up to the back teeth with the tedious and relentless sales pressure they face every time they contact their bank may at long last be getting through.

This week, the Co-operative Bank announced details of its new bonus scheme pilot, whereby staff in branches and customer call centres will have their sales targets removed and be measured and rewarded purely on the levels of customer service they provide.

It's a huge culture change for the financial services industry, and a refreshing new mindset, albeit long overdue.

The level of trust and confidence in our banks is at rock bottom, and following years of dissatisfaction, mis-selling scandals and record levels of complaints, the industry needs to take a long, hard look at itself and recognise that it can no longer treat customers as cash cows.

Aside from the onset of the banking crisis, the last few months have been some of the most turbulent in the history of UK financial services.

The major computer problems at RBS and the sale of unsuitable and complex products to small businesses were serious issues in their own right, but they almost paled into insignificance when the manipulation of Libor was uncovered.

The forthcoming inquiry into the banking industry needs to look at the culture, the standards and conflicts of interest which have driven the banking sector to the low point where it sits today.

The issue is wider than just the banks. The City demands multibillion-pound profits to be delivered year in, year out, otherwise the share price takes a hit, so it's little wonder that excessive bonuses are on offer for those who deliver these levels of profitability, no matter what the cost.

Whilst the five and six-figure bonuses are reserved for those working in the investment banking sector, it is the frontline branch staff who take the brunt of customer anger and frustration on a day-to-day basis.

It's those same branch staff who until now have been subject to demanding monthly sales targets in order to achieve financial bonuses, or face the threat of being put on a performance improvement contract if their sales figures aren't up to scratch.

We need to get back to the days when you could go into your branch with a query concerning your account and get it sorted without being given the hard sell.

At the moment you can barely set foot in the door without someone trying to "upgrade" you to a packaged account or suggest you have a "financial review" with the in-branch financial adviser.

The move from the Co-operative Bank should be applauded, and although it is currently only a pilot, it shows that the bank's hierarchy have realised that the way business is transacted in bank branches and call centres needs to radically change if they are to get customers back onside.

If you give a customer excellent service then the trust returns, the bond becomes stronger, and they will buy your products without the need for any arm-twisting.

Let's hope the Co-op rolls this new initiative out across its entire operation and throws down the gauntlet to its high-street rivals.

New rewards deals from Barclaycard

Following a relatively quiet couple of years in the credit card rewards market, the sector has really sprung to life in 2012, with Barclaycard reacting to recent best-buy offers from Sainsbury's Bank and Capital One with two new deals of its own.

Barclaycard Cashback is much more straightforward than cards on offer from some of its rivals. There are no tiers whereby you earn greater rewards the more you spend, and there are no caps on the amount of cashback you can earn either. You simply earn 2 per cent back on your five biggest purchases each month, and 0.5 per cent on all other spend. For the first three months the deal is enhanced and you'll earn 6 per cent cashback on your five biggest purchases each month during this introductory period.

The Barclaycard Freedom Rewards card enables you to earn points that you can redeem at around 70 retailers, including Marks & Spencer, iTunes and Amazon.

There are plenty of people who don't need a 0 per cent balance transfer card but pay their card off in full every month, so for these people it's another opportunity to get something tangible back in return for their custom.

Andrew Hagger is an independent personal finance analyst from www.moneycomms.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsDe Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Sport
England captain Wayne Rooney during training
FOOTBALLNew captain vows side will deliver against Norway for small crowd
Life and Style
Red or dead: An actor portrays Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, rumoured to have bathed in blood to keep youthful
health
News
peopleJustin Bieber charged with assault and dangerous driving after crashing quad bike into a minivan
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Radamel Falcao poses with his United shirt
FOOTBALLRadamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant in Colombia to Manchester United's star signing
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Money is slipping through our fingers: the UK is falling behind other countries in the amount we put away

How to save money: UK is crashing down the European league table for putting money away

The UK has slipped to 11th in the latest European league table of savers. Rob Griffin checks out the best options

Energy firms found guilty of bad practice could have licences revoked under Labour government

Caroline Flint, the shadow energy secretary, says a Labour government would create a new energy regulator

A student's guide to financial survival: You don't have to drown in debt at university

Fresh from A-level delight, the moment does not have to be soured by students resigning themselves to thousands of pounds worth of debt in three years' time. Rob Griffin sees how to pass the university challenge

'Dismal' eurozone data sparks concerns

European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi is under pressure to launch promised stimulus before the EU slides further
Love but not marriage: property is one area where cohabiting couples are in danger of losing out

How couples can protect their financial interests when cohabiting

People who simply live together cannot assume they have the same rights to each other's assets as spouses or civil partners. Michelle McGagh sees how they can protect their financial interests

India could be jewel in the crown for investors

With a new government and an ambitious prime minister, the country offers the prospect of strong returns. But there may be hiccups ahead, warns Simon Read

Child Maintenance Service to replace Child Support Agency - but is it better?

Reforms to the vexed question of child support payments by absent parents mean extra charges for both sides. Neasa Macerlean reports

Barclays's new life insurance heralds a revolution on the high street

The new product marks a shift towards 'clear, straightforward and standardised' banking products, says Simon Read

How to protect your assets if the stock markets begin to head south again

Are you worried about your portfolio? Nick Paler asks fund managers and investment insiders for advice
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Front-Office Developer (C#, .NET, Java,Artificial Intelligence)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Front-Of...

    C++ Quant Developer

    £700 per day: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Developer C++, Python, STL, R, PD...

    Java/Calypso Developer

    £700 per day: Harrington Starr: Java/Calypso Developer Java, Calypso, J2EE, J...

    SQL Developer

    £500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer SQL, C#, Stored Procedures, MDX...

    Day In a Page

    Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

    Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

    The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
    Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

    Stolen youth

    Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
    Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

    Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

    He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
    Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

    Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

    Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
    Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

    Made by Versace, designed by her children

    Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
    Anyone for pulled chicken?

    Pulling chicks

    Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
    9 best steam generator irons

    9 best steam generator irons

    To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
    England v Norway: Wayne Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

    Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

    New captain vows side will deliver for small Wembley crowd
    ‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing

    ‘We knew he was something special’

    Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York