HSBC, the bank, and its ad agency JWT are really beginning to carve out a nice brand space. Though customer service has long been the battlefield in banking, no one bank has really delivered. It’s the age old marketing conundrum of showing vs. telling. Most banks tell customers about great customer service, few actually show or do something about it.
The muscle memory behind HSBC’s work, which is specifically commercial but has consumer implications, is the act of asking real business questions. HSBC’s premise is that every business has its own unique set of circumstances and needs and that only by really listening can a banker help. HSBC’s proof of this is called RAQs (rarely asked questions). Most banks ask questions such as “Have you ever thought about using a Chase credit card for your small business?” Sales questions not thoughtful “listening to the pain” questions. Copy in an HSBC ad today suggests “knowledge is the new currency,” a word-string that works for both employees and customers.
I’ve said this before about HSBC’s work, they must actually deliver on what they promise for it to work. Rare or thoughtful questions must pass the lips of its relationship manager. Were I the head of marketing, I’d script these questions and retrain my people to listen and hear real cues. Though customer service is a marketing strategy advertised for decades, there really has been little product change. HSBC appears to be taking it seriously and they should. It’s a business-winning idea. Peace!