Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Wisdom Of The HSBC Crowd.

Retail bank HSBC have announced to customers at their branch in a chi chi area that you will not be able to receive human advice unless you have a large mortgage or $100,000 in your account. Cue righteous indignation. I heard this a couple of days ago but now it has hit the media I can link to the details for those who are interested.

The reality, of course, is that two tier banking exists in many places and that the branch in question had previously been purely automatic and that very few customers ever saw a human anyway. It would have been smarter to discreetly introduce a luxury service alongside that which existed already (as can be found on an upper floor of my own high street bank) but instead HSBC have pulled a Coke by replacing their existing service with "New HSBC" that is not to the taste of many users.

It's a storm in a teacup, but appearance is everything. There is nothing worse than bad publicity and now HSBC who are in a commodity business will be seen as elitist yet without the luxury cachet of Coutts for example. Snobs rather than servants.

It's that yes-man culture in action again - a bunch of non customer-facing executives thinking "cool idea" and "customer segmentation" but nobody bothers or dares to look at new ideas and think what could go wrong? How could this blow up in our face? Because "team-players" don't think like that. Because all too often "team-players" don't think.

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