Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The bread, butter & jam effect

Recently one of my friends felt cheated by his bank. The result of this feeling, he has stopped transacting with the bank and is doing his best to reach the gospel of the good customer service the bank offers across the UAE.

This bank in question is one of the top banks in the region. I believe, this bank has leadership position when it comes to auto loans. Being one of the oldest banks in the region they also boast a good number of companies being their corporate clients and a good number of influential individual customers.

I was thinking about how long it would take before the public en masse decides to pull out of the bank. I was also thinking about how this would happen.

Obviously this has to be a great snowball effect.

At present it is my friend who is the messiah, assume he manages to convince 50 of his friend's and then the word of mouth spreads, gaining momentum. People would add to my friend's story their own stories and their experience with the bank. Finally there would be a situation when a majority of the banks customers share the same opinion of my friend and pull out of the bank. This can’t happen immediately, for snowballs are not created out of the blue (of course unless they are man made - artificial). It is a process and this process of people (read customers) blacklisting this bank would easily take years before it happens, if at all it would.

For this to happen quickly the bank should do some sloppy work with their corporate customers and their hi-end individual customers (read Platinum customers). This wouldn’t happen in all likelihood as banks normally take special care dealing with these people. Agreed that individuals like you and me join hands to make a corporate but at the end of the day we would also agree that the way the bank treats me and you vis-à-vis our companies is very different.

Hence it is going to be ages before this bank in question is made an outcast by a majority of its customers, unless the bank doesn’t mess up drastically with every customer's monthly statement or some other services they offer.

While thinking about the time this bank would take to be boycotted by public I came up with an analogy.

To understand the anology I have come up with, let us assume every bank has three types of customers (broad based segments)

1. The individual customers
2. The hi-end individual customers (platinum or gold etc.)
3. The corporate customers

The individual customers are like bread.

It is the most essential thing for one to survive. But if one starts to notice that it is getting spoilt, we can afford to pick the spoilt side off and still consume it. And it takes a longer time for the whole loaf to get completely stale.

Likewise if one or some individual customer is dissatisfied or grumpy, the bank can afford to throw him out and still service the rest of the population. It would take a while before this dissatisfaction snowballs to a big issue covering a majority of the individual customers. And another advantage the bank has is that all the customers don’t essentially communicate with each other on a daily basis and hence no big badmouthing happens in a short span. Whereas when it becomes a dissatisfied or a grumpy hi-end or a corporate it becomes a larger issue involving press, PR and new media and hence the effect is immediate.

So I could liken the hi-end and corporate customers to the Jam or Butter that one applies on the bread.

If the Jam or Butter goes stale, the bread loses its taste and at times becomes inconsumable. But people take good care about their Jam or Butter, they refrigerate it or find other means to preserve it.

Hence, whatever my friend does now to blacklist this bank among the general public would mostly go into deaf ears or it might take ages before his efforts bear fruit for him. The best way for him to go about is to find a few Jam or Butter category people and try spoil them, then the effect should be immediate and apparent.

So until this bank's JAM or BUTTER is fresh, they would be under an illusion that all is well with the BREAD.

No comments: