In our 2007 Mystery Shopper survey, Business Moneyfacts approached 10 business banks, posing as a micro business looking to switch current account provider. Whilst any survey of this nature can be somewhat subjective, it is important to stress that banks only get one chance to impress. We may have been a new customer won or lost, so creating an excellent impression is vital if you want to stand out from the crowd in what is an extremely competitive market.
Websites:We found a range of standards which would affect the ability of a new business looking to make a switching decision. A&LCB and HSBC were both slightly ahead of the field, with the former edging ahead overall. Its excellent Business Advice section helped to make the additional facilities offered provide the slight difference. Encouragement is taken by the number of banks offering commendable sites and features, with Abbey, Bank of Scotland, Lloyds TSB and RBS all providing clear and informative content.
Telephone:It was A&LCB, HSBC and Bank of Scotland that led the way, with HSBC narrowly taking the plaudits. The flow and professional approach of HSBC, providing information and advice in a concise manner fostered a rapport and 'relationship' unmatched, even by A&LCB or Bank of Scotland.
Business banks have always insisted that the Competition Commission et al have got it wrong; that service is the issue - not pricing. Fair point, as far as it goes. What seems to be highlighted by our survey is that the issue of service is indeed important, but not perhaps in the same way as the banks believe. The level of service perceived or not is decided before a banking relationship begins: get the first contact right and the level of switching could climb. The providers that took the time to show a genuine interest in our business, HSBC, A&LCB and Bank of Scotland would have led us to switch.
In today's competitive environment our results highlighted that some providers are clearly more switched on than others.
It seems that any small business looking for a new bank not only needs to weigh the price on offer against the level of service, but also more surprisingly to identify a bank that wants its account, as not many of the banks surveyed went out of their way fight for our business, which after all was a warm lead.
The intangible but important benefits that arise from building relationships begin with the first contact. From our mystery shopping experience, it would seem that banks need to beef-up their approach to switching and to offer a more knowledgeable and proactive first contact to potential new customers.
As firms are becoming inclined to shop around for the best deal banks should take note; it's time to tune in as the switch is on.
Why not check out the best deals currently available for business banking customers.
Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.
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