Fresh eyes

Banks must listen to customers and tailor comms accordingly

Simon Turner Freshfield Managing Director

Published by Simon Turner,
Chief Executive & Group Client Director at Freshfield

Brian Colquhoun, regional director for Yorkshire Bank, writes for Freshfield on the importance of connecting with customers.

A report this week by the CBI and PricewaterhouseCoopers says more than a third of UK banks increased business volumes over the last three months, compared with just nine per cent who saw volumes fall.

That’s the strongest growth in the banking sector since June 2007 and an encouraging sign for the economy as a whole.

That said, businesses are bracing themselves for the full effects of public sector spending cuts and the banking sector will have its own fresh challenges to face.

I believe a key growth area for banks will be fatigued management teams who, emerging stronger from the recession, are looking to forge a long-term relationship with a banking partner that can provide a flexible range of solutions tailored to their needs. This will involve a lot of listening on the part of the banks.

From a Yorkshire Bank perspective, our recent business confidence survey made a series of findings on priority areas for business managers over the next 12-months:

  • 51 per cent of businesses questioned are confident or very confident their business will grow.
  • 55 per cent plan to reinvest at least six per cent of turnover back into their business for commercial growth.
  • 54 per cent plan to increase their workforce.
  • Good cashflow management is a top business priority.
  • Recruiting staff, new equipment and premises are also big investment priorities.

As part of this exercise, we also listened to businesses’ views on what would help them achieve this. Suggested support measures included payment holidays to redirect funds into business investment, fixed rate business investment loans, lengthening the loan term to reduce monthly payments, and switching loan repayments to ‘interest only’ for an agreed period.

The result of this exercise has been Yorkshire Bank’s Investing for Growth package, a proactive initiative aimed at helping companies take advantage of quality growth opportunities, by supporting business cashflow while easing debt commitments

Investing for Growth offers a dedicated planning service and a more flexible approach to investment finance, including the payment holidays and interest only loan periods mentioned in our survey findings.

Since launching in May 2010, the Investing for Growth theme has been the focus of our PR messaging and marketing communications with business customers. The initiative continues to be a huge success in helping us to grow our market share.

Above all, it demonstrates the value in businesses having effective and genuine two-way communication with customers, listening to their needs, and then providing a product tailored to those needs, backed up by clear and consistent key messages.

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