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RBS and NatWest seek to rebuild trust with Customer Charter

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16th Jun 2010
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Royal Bank of Scotland/NatWest is attempting to burnish its tarnished image in the wake of the government bail out by launching a 14-point Customer Charter guaranteeing minimum service levels.

The organisation is keen to transform itself into the UK’s ‘most helpful bank’ and devised the 14-point Charter based on feedback from more than 30,000 customers. It also plans to publish details of how it is measuring up against its own standards every six months in an independent audit undertaken by Deloitte.

Brian Hartzer, the bank’s chief executive, said: "We had a searing experience as a business and are thankful we were rescued. We have since taken stock of how we do things. There’s a lot we do well for customers, but we can do more and we want to change."

Although such change would not happen overnight, the Customer Charter showed that the organisation was "on the case" and would be held to account for the progress it had made, he added.

The move came at the same time as the Future of Banking Commission released its report, indicating that a good practice code should be introduced for the banking profession and that banks should stop rewarding frontline staff for increasing sales.

Peter Vicary-Smith, chief executive of Which?, said that the consumer body recognised public concern over all too frequent poor customer service, a lack of good financial products and irresponsible lending practices.

"While RBS’ Customer Charter is a positive step to improve performance for consumers, banks must implement the recommendations of the Future of Banking Commission to resolve fundamental problems in the sector," he added.

RBS/NatWest’s Customer Charter pledges among other things to extend opening hours at 200 of its busiest branches; to serve the majority of customers at its branches within five minutes and to provide ‘friendly, helpful’ service.

It also promises to resolve customer complaints ‘fairly, consistently and promptly’; to publish the most frequent gripes bi-annually and to actively seek customer suggestions on how to improve.

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