Abbey National is to ape the supermarket chains on customer service
by introducing special staff to cut down queues in its branches and
distance the bank from high-street rivals which have traditionally had a
poor reputation for customer service.
The initiative, which will see the recruitment of ’many hundreds’ of new
staff, is in marked contrast to banks such as Barclay’s and NatWest
which have cut thousands of jobs as a result of branch closures.
The new ’express service assistants’ will ease pressure on more
experienced staff during busy periods and will patrol branches advising
customers on how to get quicker service via automated banking machines,
or dealing with more complex enquiries.
The bank has already started charging its Instant Plus account customers
pounds 1 every time they queue in a branch, in a bid to reduce
congestion at its 870 branches and encourage use of the Instant Plus
telephone banking service.
Abbey National group’s head of marketing, Sara Weller, said the
initiative was part of a wider plan to develop the bank’s reputation for
’We recognise that customers have a lot of bargaining power and can shop
around. We have tried to learn a lot from people outside financial
services, especially in retail,’ she said.
See analysis, page 21.