In November 2004, the recently appointed chief executive, Brian Goggin, at his first results briefing informed analysts and journalists: “I believe passionately in the primacy of the customer.”
At a press briefing at the bank’s O’Connell Street branch in Dublin’s city centre yesterday, Mr Goggin and other senior executives outlined the strategy that will attempt to deliver on that commitment by making the bank more customer focused.
It takes the form of a seven- point plan parts of which are already being implemented.
That bank’s new devotion to its customers however, will not include paying for money held in their current accounts nor will it involve any significant move towards paying deposit rates of 3% like some of its competitors such as Rabobank and Northern Rock.
Mr Goggin said he wanted customers to see a difference when they dealt with Bank of Ireland. The “Changing for You” programme includes remodelling of branches, extra customer service staff and the training of 6,000 staff in providing customer driven services.
More staff will be put out front at branch counters to cut queuing times to a maximum of three minutes.
Up to 500 extra staff have been trained to deal with customer issues with 200 already in place.
Up to 90 branches will also be refurbished over the next three years while two of them have already been refitted as the bank moves to copper fasten its position as the biggest consumer bank in Ireland.
Two branches have already been completed at Little Island in Cork and Portumna, Co Galway.
The bank has also announced a new personal current account that offers free banking to those who have credit of e500 or more in their accounts and who make three online or phone payments per quarter.
Des Crowley chief executive Retail Financial Services, stressing the need for more frontline staff said: “I think we have always had customer service in our heart”, giving the proceedings the messianic touch that had been missing up to that point.
Seamus Maher, manager of the O’Connell Street branch, who welcomed the media to the launch observed that it was the first time the top executives of the group chose a branch to make a key announcement.
Over the past 10 years shareholders have got a return of 23% each year from their investment while the bank has produced 14 consecutive years of profit growth.