Innovation: developing new products and services
Although the First Direct system takes more customer contact time than automated systems, which rely either on voice recognition or data entered by customers using the telephone key-pad, this customer contact time is valuable to the company; the opportunity can be taken to explore other product needs that customers may have. First Direct customers are regularly asked about their needs for other financial products that the firm offers (credit cards, loans, mortgages etc.), and the ratings for customer satisfaction are rarely beaten (Consumers Association, 2000). As a result of this service design providing what customers want (access to their accounts at any time via the telephone and confidence in the transaction) and delivering it in the best way (short time to establish customer identification and giving confirmation of the transaction), the business has been a phenomenal success for HSBC. The investment in establishing this new bank was reported to have been repaid in 18 months, and it continues to generate significant profits for its owners.