The Current Account Switch Service 10 years on – learnings from a decade of change
Ten years ago, The Current Account Switch Service was formed – with the ultimate aim of encouraging greater competition in the banking market. The Service was built to provide the infrastructure and process to allow people, and small businesses, including charities and trusts, to switch their current account in a free, easy and guaranteed manner.
A decade in and I’m really proud of all that we’ve achieved. We’ve helped millions understand that switching is an option for them, should they find a banking partner that suits them better. Our technology has helped 9.6 million people switch current accounts and redirected over 140 million payments.
All this activity has happened as macro-economic conditions have been unpredictable at best. Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic, Cost of Living crisis and so much more have impacted our lives significantly over the past decade. Throughout this time we have provided a critical service that has facilitated switching between providers to current account products that better suit their needs.
Over the course of our journey, we’ve learnt a number of key lessons, a few of which we’ve summarised below.
#1 – Brand recognition is king
As a Service we have two core KPIs – awareness and satisfaction. Awareness is essentially the percentage of the population that know of the Service. It is important that as many people as possible know about the Service and what it provides – we cannot be effective if nobody knows we exist. Satisfaction is the percentage of people that have used the Service that are satisfied with what it delivers. This is important in ensuring that what we’re offering is of high-quality. The satisfaction KPI is hit largely thanks to the technology that underpins our work and the processes we put in place around every switch. Awareness however, is another matter entirely.
As a business we invest heavily in marketing to ensure that we consistently achieve our awareness target, which is having 75% of the general population know and recognise the Service. This is something we track on a monthly basis through independent brand tracking.
As the world around us has changed, our strategy to remain above this awareness target has shifted and evolved. From an advertising perspective we recently launched a new brand platform and adverts that feel more modern, humorous and relevant in today’s society – centred around the message and tagline ‘maybe it’s time to switch?’. The campaign looks at things people once loved but have now used for perhaps too long. From mullets and 90’s boy-band haircuts, to 80’s power suits and double denim the campaign adds a touch of fun to sorting your finances. It highlights that just because something was good once, it doesn’t always mean it will always stand the test of time, just like with a current account. Our new platform, built around a deeper and ever-evolving understanding of our core audiences, is designed to allow us to be more creative, funny and eye-catching as we move forward.
But reaching our awareness KPI goes so much beyond just advertising. As we’ve grown, so too have our strategies to ensure we’re reaching the right people, in the right places. Within the past few years we’ve seen a profound shift in the way that people interact with brands, and we’ve adapted to fit this changing climate. To reach those in younger age demographics we’ve done a huge amount of work on TikTok and across other popular social channels to partner with ‘influencers, creators who are trusted to provide their audience with valuable and useful information about financial services. We’ve also partnered with the Federation of Small Businesses, to form a more direct connection with SME owners and worked with psychologist partner Kate Nightingale to understand the science behind switching.
Alongside this we’ve evolved our communications and digital strategies to match changing consumer needs and other external factors, utilising research to ensure we are informed. Many will be aware of the Service due to our frequent appearances in the media, whether it be our latest quarterly Dashboard figures, or commentary around the wider switching market.
Brand recognition will always be critical, and the way we ensure we continue to hit our awareness KPI is to adapt to trends, changing consumer behaviour and feedback.
#2– The market moves quickly
Looking back, I think it’s more than fair to say that the UK’s banking ecosystem has evolved significantly in the past decade. As the landscape has changed, so too have consumer and business preferences. Different demographics interact with the banking system in different ways, and priority features vary significantly. For example, the emergence and accessibility of new technology has meant that many banks and building societies have invested heavily into mobile and app-based banking. For some, having a mobile app that they like is the main feature they want from their current account. Others meanwhile might want a banking partner that they can physically visit, or an account that pays a good interest rate or one that has an overdraft that suits them.
We’ve never sought to promote any particular aspect of a current account over another. Rather, we’ve worked hard to ensure we cater to the wider ecosystem, and that’s reflected in the breadth of our customer base. As well as some of the more traditional financial institutions that have been around for hundreds of years, we also work with banks and building societies that are newer additions to the ecosystem. We even work with businesses that target a smaller, more niche customer demographic, such as those with a high net worth.
#3 – We’re better together
The Current Account Switch Service plays a critical role in the wider banking ecosystem, and our focus has always been on providing the best possible service for the millions that have used the Service to switch to a current account that suits them better. They are, after all, the reason we exist.
However, we certainly can’t forget about the way in which the fifty banks and building societies that offer the Service have engaged with us over the last decade. From featuring our logo and branding on their marketing materials, through to openly discussing the benefits of switching via the Service in public forums, they’ve plaid a significant role in helping us get to where we are today. We’re all ultimately working towards the same goal, a banking ecosystem that works better for a modern Britain.
Of course, we’re just at the start of our journey, and there’s so much more to come – we strongly believe the Service has never been more relevant and needed than in the current climate and that’s why we’ll continue to operate and innovate. If you’d like to read more about our thoughts in more detail about what the future may bring, we’ve written a forward-focused piece here.
As one of the team involved since the beginning the last decade has been a real pleasure for me personally, and I’d like to thank everyone in the team and all those that we’ve worked with along the way. It wouldn’t have been possible without you.
As always, any thoughts, questions or comments we’d love to hear them. You can get in touch with us via email@example.com