Issue: Closure of regional branches
Hot on the heels of the furore over the big banks making ’disloyalty
charges’ for customers using other cash points, Barclays was in the
media mire again with the announcement that it was closing 171 regional
branches across the UK, with the loss of 7,500 jobs.
Barclays isn’t the only bank closing branches - NatWest and Lloyds both
have closures on the cards, but they have so far escaped the same level
of outrage which has been directed at Barclays.
The bank might have got away with less of a storm if it hadn’t also
announced record profits of pounds 2.5 billion, offered huge payouts to
senior executives, and been in the middle of a multi-million pound
advertising campaign shouting that it was a ’big’ bank.
But the unfortunate clash of these factors meant the ’big’ bank has
spent the past couple of weeks in the dog house with various groups,
including the National Association of Bank Customers, which must be
having its most active spring ever, and the Local Government
Barclays’ web site, carrying its new blue colours, is a serious animal,
but it has not been used to address consumer concerns in any great
Ironically, it does have ’community focus’ pages under the company
information part of the site, which outline its commitments to schools,
the theatre, the environment, and its social responsibility.
The opening page of this section states: ’We aim to build successful and
unique partnerships with local communities and charitable group which
produce lasting and tangible benefits.’
The main areas covered on the site are personal financial services;
business banking; on-line banking; investment banking, and asset
management for institutions. The personal financial services section
gives plain-speaking advice on borrowing money, buying a home,
insurance, pensions, and making a will.
There is no forum on the site for customers to give their comments, and
the overall feel is that it is targeted more at investors and analysts
than the average customer.
The newsroom page carries recent press releases, including the
announcement of the deal to offer banking services through Post Offices
in most of the regions hit by branch closures. This may act as a panacea
to Barclays’ current problems, but it will take time for the bank to
bounce back from the perception that it is even more arrogant than its