Barclays spends £5m on trivia

Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

Oh dear. Since last October I have managed to avoid posting in my Dr Rant category but today I am unwilling to hold back.

According to the Daily Mirror, Barclays Bank is spending £5m “changing the way it talks to customers”.

The bank plans to revamp all 1,500 branches, ditching jargon and “out-of-date” signs.

It will rename ATMs – a US acronym for Automated Teller Machine – “holes in the wall”.

“Customer service” signs will now say “Can I help?”, the Bureau de Change will become “Travel money”.

Barclays is also outlawing black pens on chains, which it says are awkward for left-handed people.

They will be replaced by pens carrying slogans such as “Take me I’m yours”, which the bank obviously thinks customers will take literally as it has ordered 10 million of them.

If you’re not already reaching for the sickbag, how about this sign from the new style Barclays: “Through this door walk the nicest people in the world.”

The Mirror describes this as the “brainwave” of Jim Hytner – the same chap who reportedly “masterminded” the dismal TV ads the bank ran a few months ago (reviewed by me here). I love the droll way in which The Guardian introduces us to Mr Hytner as the man “who was responsible for the last ITV revamp but one.”

Funny how the coverage of these launches seems to feature Mr Hytner so prominently… he must be frustrated that people might think all this money is really spent to make him look good – instead of making the bank look good… or (heaven forfend) making the customers look good.

Of course, we’ve seen it all before in financial services. Abbey tried it a couple of years ago, preposterously claiming they were going to revolutionise the way people dealt with money – which basically boiled down to gimmicky renaming of its products. Many millions of pounds and a takeover later, it all vanished.

As the Mirror concludes

The trouble for Barclays is that this sounds like a bit of a gimmick. What customers really want from bank branches are shorter queues and fairer deals.

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