Looking After Your Customers As You Grow: Amazon v Santander


I use to be a customer of these two companies, but now only one features in my regular bookmarks.

For those of you from outside of Europe, Santander is a Spanish bank who in recent years has acquired and grown by purchasing Abbey National, Alliance and Leicester and more recently branches of the Royal Bank of Scotland. As a result in a relatively short period of time, Santander has established themselves as a very recognisable high street bank.  If you don’t know who Amazon is, then you’ve head your head in the sand for a little too long.

So one of these has hit the headlines recently for winning an award for having the best customer service whilst the other has recently been voted worst for looking after it’s customers, as well as a huge mistakes which resulted in sending out confidential customer details to the wrong 35,000 people.

It brings to my mind the hidden dangers of growth, and how mismanaged customers can suffer from companies ambitions plans. I love Amazon and the service they provide. I love the simplicity of their site, the reliability of their goods, the information available to me and the updates on the delivery. Due to reading lots of books I previously signed up to their Prime service a while back so that I got delivery next day. Since then I download the books straight onto my Kindle. So my experience with them is good.

Santander have grown very quickly very fast, and from experience I know that’s a dangerous journey. They have been struggling with their customer service. From some sensible banking during the credit crunch, when everyone was caught out with Toxic loans, Santander had not over exposed themselves. But being cash rich, they had a spending spree over the last five years. But with the drive to grow more customers and branches, and many customers moving from being looked after by building societies (Alliance & Leicester and Abbey National) to Santander, it has left many customers feeling frustrated.

This hit their lowest low in 2010 when they accidentally sent out statements with people’s bank account numbers and what they’d spent their money on to the wrong addresses. All 35,000 of them. Kind of undoes all the emphasis they’ve been making about safe and secure banking!

In any sized company, it’s so easy to go after the growth, without fully anticipating the mistakes and the problems that will be faced as you try to put the systems in to manage the growth. I know because I made the same mistake myself. Playing catch up is always a stressful place to be in and someone loses out. Often it’s the customers, as they are left receiving a service that is not up to the standard they initially expected.

So as you build, never lose sight of the customers and ensure that your growth is also hand in hand with your customers satisfaction. If you’ve got a marker of success to be more than just the finances, it keeps your decisions in check to ensure that all people (customers, staff, suppliers, stakeholders) benefit from the decisions made. In this world of connectivity you simply can’t survive unless your customers are treated with the care, attention and service they deserve.

How do you go about ensuring you look after your customers as you grow?


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