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Connexus : Issue 40
unions to become a mutual bank in the past year, confrms that it has witnessed a growing shift of customers away from the major banks since they broke ranks with the RBA interest rate cycle late last year. It reported a signifcant increase in mortgagees switching to Teachers Mutual from December through to the frst couple of months of this year. James adds that there must be a balance between the latest technology and more traditional mutual services. "Technology is very important, but it's also about the way we are going to treat people as they switch to mutual banks. It's about taking time to sit down at the front counter and in our telephone centres to explain all the benefts of mutuals banks and the value-added products we have, and the more personalised level of ser vice we provide." Core mission As the account switching reforms bed down, Abacus has high hopes for the new r ules. "We hope account switching can put an end to some of the inertia around switching and drive Australians to our customer-owned banks – the holders of the best customer satisfaction ratings in the country," says Petschler. She describes converting customer sentiment into genuine action as "our core mission". "We need to be excited about the possibilities of account switching and ensure that all staff know about it and talk up its benefts in their community and to their customers in order to drive enquiries into our branches and customer contact centres." Queensland Teachers Mutual Bank believes it will take up to 12 months to see the real benefts of the new switching era. "Using all the different advertising mediums -- whether it's social, mainstream or direct mail -- I think there's a whole range of issues to underpin the promotion that's going to happen with switching," says Murphy. CUA's Jason Murray adds that "anything which makes it easier for consumers to get what they need is a positive outcome". He says mutuals should back themselves to prosper in a more competitive environment, even if that means having to repel the advances of aggressive banks. "The more unencumbered the switching process becomes, the better. But it means you have to live up to your promises." Cameron Cooper is a freelance writer. On winning over gen Y: It’s important to point out that we have a solid base of young Australians who are already members – some 600,000 members under 25. That’s a vibrant and strong group of people who are our advocates of the future, to spread the word about the benefts of mutuals. Marketing the account switching changes: Getting the message out to consumers is important. Staf are ofen the best champions, so making sure staf are aware of the changes, and the benefts for their organisation and for new customers, is a key plank of any marketing efort. Maximising the opportunity: Considerable investment of time should be made to ensure this isn’t a missed opportunity. I’m sure it won’t be. Our members are working tirelessly to promote the value, choice and competition they ofer to everyday Australians who are craving it. Abacus CEO Lou Petschler... CoverStory 34 Connexus