First Direct to open Little Black Book to non-customers

HSBC owned direct bank First Direct is preparing to open its recommendations site “Little Black Book” to non-customers as it looks to ramp up engagement through social media.

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The online community, which launched earlier this year, allows customers to leave recommendations on hotels, bars and restaurants. The service is currently restricted but the bank wants to allow prospective customers to view recommendations.

Natalie Cowen, head of brand and communications at First Direct, says it hopes showcasing its customers’ recommendations will reflect well on the bank. Non-customers will be able to view but not add recommendations.

Separately, the bank is to launch a new design for its credit card after customers were “crowd sourced” for ideas.

Customers will be offered several cards to choose from before a final design is chosen. Customers had called for a change in design to distinguish the cards from First Direct debit cards.

The new design will be the first product of the “First Direct Lab” set up earlier this year in a bid to offer customers a stake in the products and services they use.

First Direct Lab is also soliciting ideas on changes to digital products and services. The open forum has run consultations on website redesign, a mortgage comparison smartphone app and the possible introduction of QR codes.

Cowen says that there has been a significant level of interest and changes could be prompted if there is sufficient demand.

First Direct is still seeking a marketing director after Paul Say left earlier this year. Head of customer marketing Davnet Reid is currently filling the role on an interim basis.

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