Photograph of Bruno de Laage, Credit AgricoleFrance is
not the frontier of our ambitions. We can use our French success in
our other markets. Despite the difficulties now, one day they will
be out of trouble. Greece is the most difficult country for us, but
we do not plan to quit. Our focus at Emporiki is on human resources
– [sales] are low and we are not satisfied with the figures. We are
decreasing staff numbers.

The new Greek retirement law
facilitated these objectives because more people wanted to leave
before the new law was enacted. There is no forced redundancy,
however. We are investing in recruiting and training staff
according to our French banking standards to meet individual sales
targets. We are training them to migrate customers to ATMs for cash
handling. In Greece 80-90% of cash operations are handled by staff
– that is not cost effective.

 

On Poland

Poland is very cash oriented. We are trying to build a full
retail bank from scratch and hope to attract some of Lukas’s 2m
customers. There are 400,000 full retail banking customers, of
which we acquired 150,000 last year – but we do not have any retail
bank branches, only consumer finance branches. We have no urgent
need to grow rapidly and focus on the existing two million
customers first.

We have had a campaign called
mission Chopin – and took Polish advisers to our French banks and
French advisers to our Polish banks to see how we manage customer
relationships in each market. Our Polish advisers discovered they
could indeed ask customers about their personal financial projects.
.

We have no plans to introduce new
technology [such as NFC or contactless payments] in Poland. We are
going for plain, basic products – savings, credit cards and the
like – not complicated ones. We actually think we have to sell
products in Poland that worked in France years ago.

 

On staff-customer
interaction

We will migrate non-value operations to the online channels and
operate branches in a more sales-oriented manner for complex and
high-value issues. It is difficult to determine which kind of
branch will be the [right] one in the future.

I should be able to give an answer on this, but frankly, we
haven’t found it yet. We are still exploring and testing different
kinds of branches. There is no importance of the design of the
branch. What is important is the customer relationship management.
We have no plans for a branch redesign right now, but we are not
complacent either. There are a lot of discussions going on, always.
At Crédit Agricole, nothing is decided lightly. Bruno de Laage
is deputy CEO, retail banking and specialised financial services,
at Crédit Agricole

 

See also:

Innovation
at home, tradition abroad