Everyone is in PR now, part I

Tomorrow's Business

From the latest issue of The Spectator, in a column by Melissa Kite:

“To the banks who changed the rules on overdrafts to make new charges comes in on 24 March, I say: We will remember. Mine sent me a text saying transfer funds by close of play today or it’s 35 percent because I was slightly overdrawn. They sent the same text to the BB (builder boyfriend), then when he turned up at a branch in a panic to deposit cash, an employee barred his entry and told him his visit was ‘not essential’. When he told her his car insurance was about to bounce because they had demanded he put more money in, she still would not let him in.”

It doesn’t matter whether this story is entirely true or not (though I don’t doubt it for a second) the important thing is that this sort of stuff IS what people will remember.

In normal circumstances, this minor tale of bank stupidity wouldn’t make the complaints pages of the Money sections, still less a popular column in the best weekly in Britain.

It does now. So every employee is presently engaged in a national PR battle to do the right thing (and look like they are).

Often when dealing with large companies being dumb, you get the strong sense that the member of staff you are speaking to knows full well that what he is asking of you is daft. They aren’t empowered to do the sensible thing, or don’t feel like they are. They need empowering, fast.

Which I think means the top flaks have to say to top CEOs, can you please send a simple message to our staff everywhere: don’t behave like an arse. If in doubt, err on the side of the customer.

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