Technology empowered consumers expect personalised services at competitive prices and with large returns. Banks, financial institutions and superannuation industries across all major economies, including Australia, operate in highly competitive environments. While some have buckled under pressure, there are a few that have proven that the right focus is all one needs to overcome any challenging situation and help the business grow.

Even as the Royal Commission in Australia is cracking its whip on unethical activities by banks and other financial institutions, there’s a deeper story around customer focus hidden in this melee. Interestingly when you look at our benchmarking of Australia’s most popular brands using the Net Promoter Score, the ones that emerged with the highest scores with specific focus on the banking and superannuation sectors sailed through the Royal Commission either untouched or relatively unscathed. Does this mean that the Net Promoter Score is an indicator of a brand’s positive customer intentions? Let’s find out.

Even as loyalty programs, customer feedback management and personalised services have been leveraged as channels to keep consumers engaged, behind the scenes a differentiating factor is whether there is an underlying positive customer focus and intention.

Bendigo Bank is one of the banks that achieved one of the highest Net Promoter Scores in our study. Its initiative of opening community-run banks and re-pooling profits to fund local development – and this at a time when several other major banks were downing the shutters in far flung regions – is illustrative of a positive customer focus. From our studies it is clear that positive customer intentions result in increased loyalty, more product purchases and greater WOM, which is the most powerful sales and marketing channel (source: Engaged Strategy’s Intelligent Industry Analytics).

This sentiment was also highlighted by QSuper to which I presented the Most Recommended Brand in superannuation award in November last year to highlight their achievement as the brand with the highest Net Promoter Score across superannuation from our study. The company also won the customer’s choice for the Most Proactive superannuation brand. During my interaction with the call centre team way earlier than their work hours, I could sense their astoundingly high energy levels and a sense of gratification to provide great customer experience. This mindset was also highlighted in Volume 2: Case Studies of the Final Report by the Royal Commission. The report stated that “…superannuation funds can take a number of steps– as QSuper has done – to better inform vulnerable members of their entitlements and to remove barriers to access. Further, this can be done at little or no cost.” This illustrates QSuper’s proactive interaction with less informed customers to help them better understand the products available and what suits their budgets best. Personally, I would term this as an execution of a positive customer intention that can bring in potential reform within the financial sector.

Even as the effects of the Royal Commission reports are beginning to heat up, there is ample space for organisations to make amends right away by beginning at the grassroot level of empowering their employees. The call centre is a good start. Empowering the call centre team to reinforce customer values and deliver on promises made can play a massive role in reducing customer churn. Add to this a dash of personalised services and a strategic approach, and a brand can instantly begin to strengthen its presence and customer experience.

A constant analysis of customer satisfaction data by asking the right questions and then taking relevant action also helps build valuable customer relationships and increases marketing effectiveness. A thorough examination of current policies and procedures and the impact on customers is also very important. Once a brand gets this right, it can meet customer needs before competition and do the right thing.

The Royal Commission’s findings have sure come as a wake-up call to consumers and made them more aware of their investment options. At the same time it has thrown the limelight on the importance of customer centricity and positive intent that earns a brand not just a customer’s loyalty stamp, but also creates a powerful brand ambassador.