Opinion  

Tesco’s human banking approach should be a winner

Gill Cardy

Last week Tesco Bank launched a current account. Originally opened for business in 1997, the bank became wholly owned by Tesco in 2008 when it bought out Royal Bank of Scotland’s share in the business.

It boasts 7m customers, with nearly 2m holding car, home and pet insurance, and has £6.1bn in deposits, with roughly the same amount on the debit side with credit cards, loans and mortgage borrowing.

Last week Tesco Bank launched a current account. Originally opened for business in 1997, the bank became wholly owned by Tesco in 2008 when it bought out Royal Bank of Scotland’s share in the business.

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It boasts 7m customers, with nearly 2m holding car, home and pet insurance, and has £6.1bn in deposits, with roughly the same amount on the debit side through credit cards, loans and mortgages.

Quoting from its website: “Our colleagues are not set individual sales targets and do not receive incentives. This is because we want the focus to be on listening to customers and serving their needs. We also believe in the importance of rewarding loyalty when customers choose to buy or use the products that we offer. Last year alone, we handed over £100m in Clubcard points to say thank you.”

That is £14 an account, on average, and £14 more than any of us get back from most, if not all, of UK current accounts. In this social media obsessed age, I thought I would check out Twitter, and compare @TescoBankNews to my randomly chosen victim @Barclays.

Tesco Bank, ignoring fluff relating to its launch day, has photos of staff engaged in a whole variety of fundraising challenges, community fun days and winning awards for commitment to company culture.

There are also photos of new recruits, USwitch awards, charity of the year news and examples of social responsibility work undertaken by employees in the bank’s three call centres.

There is even a separate Twitter feed to “follow our news on how we use our scale for good”.

Barclays, meanwhile, has its 2014 Interim Management statement, details on its new chief operations and technology officer, an AGM bulletin, information on director shareholdings, its annual report 2013, news that the chief executive turned down his bonus, and that Antony Jenkins (obviously unaware of the irony of the nature of his speaking engagement) stressed the importance of regulatory and cultural reform at a conference in Brussels.

Engaging, human and giving meets tedious, boring and, to my mind, hypocritical. You do not have to be a marketing genius to work out which offering will be more appealing to the public.

I wish Tesco Bank well as a challenger bank, but it is not going to have to try that hard to challenge the levels of service and disdain UK banking customers tolerate.

Gill Cardy is network development director of ValidPath