steve aldridge and alison bostock
Steve Aldridge & Alison Bostock, Natwest Bank
South Devon’s Natwest Local CEO Steve Aldridge and Dartmouth branch manager Alison Bostock told By The Dart about a new community initiative and why the bank’s Customer Charter is working for their customers.
Natwest has in recent years set itself the task of becoming the most customer focused bank on the High Street thanks to its Customer Charter, which is independently reviewed every six months.
And this month the bank’s Community Force initiative will give its customers the opportunity to help local causes claim a part of an £18,000 pot in South Devon.
Both these ‘big ideas’ are designed to connect the bank with its customers and make a positive difference wherever there is a Natwest.
The new role of Local CEO was created by the bank to ensure its branches were locally focussed and doing all they could to help their customers and community and Steve, who has worked for Natwest since 1979 said he was proud to be at the head of a group of branches who were so committed to helping him achieve that.
‘I look after 11 branches around the area, and have been in post for a couple of months,’ said the former City of London area manager, who moved to Devon 9 years ago. ‘It really is a pleasure to work with my colleagues, who are all bringing enthusiasm and professionalism to our efforts to bring the bank closer to the community.’
Alison Bostock, who has worked at the Dartmouth branch since 1980, said she and her staff were dedicated to working in a way which benefited their customers.
‘I certainly believe that you should treat others as you expect to be treated – in all areas of life,’ she said. ‘We take pride in helping others and doing the best job we can. When we do that we are helping people achieve their goals in life – a house purchase, a dream holiday or a canny investment – and that makes us feel good.
‘I brought up my family in this community and I like the fact that I can say hello to most of our customers as friends. We are part of this community which means we want to feel pride in the job we do for the customers.
‘We live in an age of technology, but people still want the personal touch a lot of the time. Although many people use our website, or our Iphone app or our phone banking, many people still want to deal direct with a person – we are pleased to give that variety of choice.’
Steve said: ‘I was outside the Dartmouth branch the other day and was asked by a passerby if I was the manager there – when I said I was the Local CEO the person told me they had fantastic service at the branch. This is not an uncommon event I’m happy to say!’
The Dartmouth branch of Natwest has more Dartmouth accounts than any other bank and their customer service record shows 97 percent of them are extremely happy with the service they receive.
In another effort to give their customers the best service, from the end of November the Dartmouth Branch will be extending its normal opening hours – from Monday to Friday it will open 9am - 5pm, and on Saturdays will be open from 9am - 12.30pm.
‘We have made this choice – which has been supported by our staff – to extend our opening hours because it’s what our customers want,’ said Steve. ‘One of the things I love about my role is it does give some flexibility and we can make these decisions for the good of our customers.
‘We would like to hear from organisations and events where we can help. We expect nothing in return – we are part of the community and would like to help everyone in it in any way we can. Five staff including Alison and I were out at Regatta - we asked the committee to give us jobs to do, from putting out chairs to rattling collection tins – it was great fun and we were happy to be helping out.
‘The Community Force initiative last year gave £5,000 to local charitable causes – and this year there is £18,000 available. Anyone from the local community can go online and vote for the cause they wish to receive funds locally. We need the community’s input to make sure we are supporting the causes they support.’
Alison said: ‘The best thing about working here is we have a genuine feeling of camaraderie within the branch and local organisation – which only makes us work harder for each other and our customers.’
The Community Force website can be accessed by going to www.natwest.com/communityforce, where you can read about and vote for the organisation you would like to support.
First Published September 2011 By The Dart