How can staff incentives build trust between banks and customers?

Untrustworthy bankerWith news that seven million people could be in line for hundreds of pounds in compensation for being mis-sold credit card and identity theft protection banks are once again back in the news for all the wrong reasons. It also seems that the banks may have to pay further billions to compensate small businesses who were mis-sold complex financial derivatives called interest-rate swaps.

Over recent years the mis-selling scandals and large bonuses that have been paid have underlined that banking had lost its way and had lost touch with values such as the trust on which their reputations were initially built.

 

Rectifying the situation

One of these banks, Barclays, is starting to put things right. An internal memo sent to more than 140,000 Barclays staff by chief executive Antony Jenkins in January 2013 said, “There is no doubt that 2012 was a difficult year for Barclays and the entire banking sector. Again, financial institutions found themselves too often in the news for the wrong reasons. This damaged trust in banks, which was already at a low ebb, and overshadowed the excellent and valued work you do.”

The memo was sent in order to notify Barclays staff of the bank’s new Purpose and Values blueprint. The blueprint identifies five key values and behaviours that are expected of all staff, these are: respect, integrity, service, excellence and stewardship.  From now on Antony Jenkins expects all Barclays business to be based around these key values and behaviours, and his message was clear: there is no future for employees who cannot uphold these values.

 

Building trust

Trust is important to all businesses, not just banking and the financial services sector. When customers have a high level of trust in their supplier they tend to buy more or buy more often. So it’s easy to see why all businesses need to build and establish a high level of trust with their prospects and customers.

The reason banking’s reputation has been damaged is because it had become all about the sale of a financial product rather than about customer service, and because of the miss-selling scandals customers lost trust in their banks. But the fault doesn’t lie with the ‘on the ground’ employees, the management of our banks and financial institutions had encouraged the wrong practices and the wrong corporate behaviour.

 

The role of staff incentives in building trust

So how can businesses encourage the right behaviours? Certainly setting out the values and behaviours businesses expect of their employees, as Barclays have done, is a good first step but a staff incentive scheme can help businesses build trust with their customers by encouraging and rewarding the right behaviours.

The first stage is deciding on the business goals and identifying the types of employee behaviours that will move the business towards its goal. From there, businesses and HR teams can determine reward criteria and communicate the scheme to its employees.

Staff incentives build trustClear goals are an essential part of any staff incentive and for building trust, this means that your employees can see and understand what exactly they need to do to be rewarded.

Additionally as your employees start to be rewarded under the scheme, it’s an opportunity for the business to publicly recognise the individual and let other employees know what that individual did. This public recognition reinforces the behaviour amongst their peers and can also encourages other employees to adopt similar behaviour.

 

One of the things Barclays’ Antony Jenkins did in October 2012 was to drop the link between employee’s bonus and sales and to restructure the criteria so that bonuses were linked to customer satisfaction. As a result of the changes Jenkins has made the bank’s share price has jumped from 179.90p in August 2012, when Jenkins joined Barclays, to 317.05p at the end of July.

Now which business wouldn’t want those results?

 

Sales incentives

 

John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.

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