The Secret Marketer: global brands need to honour their pledges

If you saw advertising that claimed: “We are one of the world’s largest banks”, wouldn’t you assume that the brand in question operated a global presence?

Secret Marketer

If you saw advertising that claimed: “We are one of the world’s largest banks”, wouldn’t you assume that the brand in question operated a global presence?

This is one of the reasons why one of my family members opened an account with that bank while studying in Spain. She also turned to the brand because she knows it from its heavy advertising in the UK.

All was well while she was studying, but after transferring her account back to the UK, the first monthly statement she received contained the phrase “Liquidacion de Cuenta” in big letters across the top of the document.

Now, in the current economic crisis spreading across the banking sector of mainland Europe, the word “liquidacion” implies something grave.

She called her bank in Spain, but there was no reply. Was this because it was siesta time or had the bank already gone bust?

She called her bank in Spain, but there was no reply… Was this because it had already gone bust?

She then called the UK operation. Like too many banks, all calls were routed to a central call centre, which is clearly under-resourced to take the necessary volume of calls. After waiting a full 18 minutes before she heard the dulcet tone of the usual colloquial telephone operator, the call did not start well. There was no apology for the delay in answering (for which I was paying because the 0800 numbers for customer service enquiries are long gone).

And then as she explained the dilemma, she was told she could not make an enquiry about an account from outside the UK.
But you are a global bank? No no no.

Well can someone tell me what Liquidacion de Cuenta means? No no no.

OK, but could you just reassure us that your parent bank has not gone bankrupt? No no no.

Does that mean that no it hasn’t, or no you don’t know? No no no.

She gave up.

What is the lesson here? I am possibly being unreasonable to expect a global business to have a global CRM system, but this is another example of where a brand has extolled the virtues of a great corporate message but failed to deliver that on the ground.

It also reinforces the point I have made before about the risks of putting your brand image in the hands of individuals who fail to grasp the importance of brand ambassadors. They may be cheap but are rarely cheerful.

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