The Next Wave in Customer Centricity: Customers as Shareholders?

Share:
Customer Engagement
Customer Experience
I was reading a blog post the other day from Travers Clarke-Walker, CMO at Fiserv - International Group, that got my attention. Clarke-Walker mentioned that Tandem Bank founder Ricky Knox is inviting consumers to become "co-founders" in this U.K. 'challenger' bank and receive a share in the bank and early access to new products in exchange for sharing their feedback on the customer experience. For the unacquainted, a 'challenger' bank is a relatively small retail bank that's designed to compete with larger, well-established banks.

I was reading a blog post the other day from Travers Clarke-Walker, CMO at Fiserv - International Group, that got my attention. Clarke-Walker mentioned that Tandem Bank founder Ricky Knox is inviting consumers to become "co-founders" in this U.K. 'challenger' bank and receive a share in the bank and early access to new products in exchange for sharing their feedback on the customer experience. For the unacquainted, a 'challenger' bank is a relatively small retail bank that's designed to compete with larger, well-established banks.Speaking at an industry conference in Copenhagen last week, Knox offered additional details about the plan, stating that for every five people they refer to the bank, each "co-founder" will receive an additional share.

Co-founders will also be regularly invited to attend workshops at Tandem's office and be involved in discussions and projects through a dedicated online hub.

I have mixed feelings about this initiative. On one hand, it's a potentially brilliant approach to building customer engagement in the brand and getting customers actively involved in collaborating on new products and services. Obtaining regular doses of customer feedback is also a great way of identifying and acting on sources of customer dissatisfaction and to keep a pulse of customers' interests and needs.

Tandem Bank's initiative is also an innovative way to make customers stakeholders in the brand and to provide them an opportunity to steer the direction of the company.

Moreover, it represents yet another approach to creating disruption in a financial services industry where customer trust continues to lag. Globally, just 54 percent of customers trust the financial services industry, according to the 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer.

But providing customers a financial stake in the company in return for their feedback raises some potential conflicts. For instance, in return for a share in the company (or multiple shares, depending on the number of referrals a customer generates), will participants be completely candid in their feedback that they share with the company?

Plus, what happens if some participants become disengaged? Will the bank remind them that they are obligated to provide feedback? How will that play out?

Testing new approaches to improve customer engagement is great. But we'll have to see how Tandem Bank's engagement model works out.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION