Banks are not the French maids of the corporate world

Why does the Commonwealth Bank have concierges? The moment you walk in the door a “concierge” greets you and asks you your business.

The bank seems to think that giving a sexy French title to what is essentially a corporate triage nurse is going to make them alluring. Eh, no, they are still a bank.  

Also, this concierge greeting system doesn’t work. When the concierge is talking to another customer, or at lunch or getting a coffee or making the most of toilet time and customers arrive they tend to stand there looking confused and blocking the entrance. The other day I even saw them ask other customers what they are meant to do. Thanks Commbank – now you are getting your customers to do your work for you too.

When the concierge reappears, they elaborately log the query on an iPad and direct you to a lounge where other clients are sprawled. I suppose this is kind of like a hotel lobby, hence concierge, but somehow I am not feeling that holiday vibe. It’s all in the name of the bank trying to convince us it is not a bank. I’m surprised it is not doing single origin coffee or serving bliss balls.

Of course, the bank is just emulating numerous of companies giving exciting names to bad jobs eg Public Waste Technician for toilet cleaner, Mobile Sustenance Facilitator for food truck worker, Gastronomical Hygiene Engineer for dishwasher.

Concierge might not be so funny as these but it is equally ridiculous. A concierge is a bank employee and a queue is a queue. It doesn’t matter how the bank tries to pimp this up, it doesn’t matter how long I spend on the lounge deep down I still know I am at a bank. Also, I am not entirely sure we want banks to be sexy. They are not the French maids of the corporate world. We don’t want them to pacify us with their concierges and their slightly uncomfortable lounges and their open plan offices for discussing personal finance. We don’t want peppy staff. We want bank tellers.  

I suspect this is a move by the bank to limit costs. To employ very low-cost, non-teller staff to stand around, to give the impression of being looked after while in fact being treated worse. Then dress it up as personalised service and an exotically European title. Commonwealth Bank have saved half a salary and we have been treated just that much worse without anything concrete to complain about. I mean, it is hard to complain about being greeted without feeling like a tool. And queueing on a loungesuite is hard to whinge about without it sounding like a massive first world problem. And you can bet the bank is counting on that.



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