NatWest Ideas Bank

natwest card macro

This struck me as a good idea. NatWest Bank have introduced a thing called “Ideas Bank“. I discovered this after getting in touch with them via twitter, where I ranted about how I was sick of their single track hold music policy that they’ve had since the 90s. I blogged about it here. They suggested I submit my idea to their Ideas Bank. This evening, I did just that.

30 years ago, the BBC used to employ a rule-of-thumb whereby one letter of complaint was the voice of 40,000.  Some bright boffin had found that only around one in 40,000 could be bothered to do anything about it, when they wanted to complain about something they’d seen on the telly. This 1 in 40k number was quite low because of a few factors – one being, it cost time and money (stamps) to do this, and also the idea that it would just be a letter on a desk that would do nothing, being read by perhaps just some low level admin – was off putting. Now-a-days though, it’s so easy to send a letter (or ‘tweet’) which has the potential to be read by millions.  As a result, this 1/40,000 ratio no longer exists. No one bothers to ‘complain to head office’ about things any more, they rant on facebook or twitter.

In this world where it’s oh so easy to complain publicly, it’s now considered best practice to address it back, publicly.  As well as being the first line of defence in Damage Limitation, it’s potentially profitable. In business today, there’s smart money is on turning each negative into a positive. ‘Crowd Sourcing’ information is a cunning ploy – in this case channelling negative feedback into their own network. As NetWest own this wall that people are chucking mud at, they have the power to cover over the cracks when needed. Apply a liberal dash of gamification and ‘social’. More cunning.

To me though, the proof of this, is in the pudding. See, one can appear to be listening, appear to be taking note of things, but taking action is where it counts. Arguably, the ‘Our Updates’ statements on the site that go along the lines of “look how well we’ve done – look, you asked for xyz and you got xyz” could all quiet easily stem from internal ideas that were already in the pipeline that they’ve just leveraged a convenient bit of PR on the top of. No, the pudding for me of if the NatWest Ideas Bank is working, will be one of the following – either a new song on their telephone hold music within say, a month from now, or a strong argument as to why they’re sticking with “Red Dragon”.

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Blogger. Photogger. Walker. Talker. Experience designer based in Dubai. Co-founder of 4 kids.

2 Responses

  1. Nic Geelan
    Nic Geelan at |

    you could always do them a remix of “Red Dragon” and see if they’ll adopt it

  2. Dean Gregory
    Dean Gregory at |

    Well said. I think that what you have touched upon is just a part of a bigger issue around the ethics of crowd sourcing; when a corporate entity “takes” something from an individual or a crowd, there is, as you rightly say an implied responsibility to act upon it in an ethical way. By way of metaphor, you wouldn’t walk up to a stranger, ask for directions and then ignore both the directions and the person. It’s just rude. Having said that – there is a much grubbier side to crowd sourcing – exemplified by operations like This is a site where brands and corporations can source ideas, technology and creativity under the guise of a competition. The prizes are monetary – usually a couple of thousand euros, but they are a fraction of the cost of putting a creative team on the job, or buying the intellectual property. For example:

    “Use your creative flair and show us your vision of a future smartphone in 2020 through a refreshingly creative, forward-looking and groundbreaking product idea that brings revolutionary changes in our lives, like the 1st smartphone did.”

    What would those ideas be worth to say, Apple or Samsung? €5000? Because that is the reward for giving away your idea that could be the next big thing in phones… ridiculous.

    Just because you are dealing with a crowd, doesn’t mean to say that you can be rude or unethical.


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