De Volksbank's brands are riding high in this year's CEE rankings. ASN Bank was ranked first overall for Customer Experience Excellence in the Netherlands. SNS ranked 31st and second bank in the rankings. With a range of brands that also includes RegioBank and BLG Wonen, de Volksbank's focus on delivering 'banking with a human touch' is clearly making an impact with Dutch consumers.

The brand driving the mission

"De Volksbank is much more than just an operating company. Our mission of encouraging 'banking with a human touch' allows us to act as a value driver for our four brands. Working together, we are able to create value for all our stakeholders – our customers, society, our employees and our shareholders. To do that, we believe it is important for us to build stronger relationships with our customers and broader society.

That is why we decided to position de Volksbank more strongly in the market. It has worked; now more customers recognise de Volksbank and understand what we stand for. And until now there is an encouraging impact on some of our brands and vice versa. The campaign has also led to a significant rise in job applications and makes our employees even prouder to be part of de Volksbank.

De Volksbank supports and facilitates the mission of our four brands in different ways. In some cases, this may be with a point of view on societal themes like data privacy. Or it may be with cross-brand initiatives like the 'Eurowijs' program that makes financial education accessible to children.

At the same time, we also support our brands by sharing ideas, tools and platforms – particularly in non-differentiating areas like IT – where the brands can benefit from being part of a larger platform. In this way, we are able to help our brands be as effective as possible, enabling them to focus on where they can make a real difference.

While the mission and support of de Volksbank is a common thread between the brands, each of our four brands is unique. They offer distinct profiles and focus on different themes as part of our shared mission 'banking with a human touch'. This enables our brands to serve their customers in individual ways that allow us to make a real difference in the lives of our customers."

ASN Bank: Towards a more sustainable society

"For more than 60 years, ASN Bank has been dedicated to contributing to a more sustainable society. And we have remained dedicated to that mission: it is reflected in everything we do and in the choices we make as a brand – from the products we offer and investments we make, through to the way we communicate and connect with our customers.

Our employees are engaged in our mission and truly want to 'be there' for our customers. Customers who call our service centre, for example, experience this often; if a service agent can't answer the customer's specific question or solve the issue themselves, they will not hesitate to bring in colleagues to get the answer. Even if that means walking across the office with their headset on.

It's not just our employees that make a difference. Our customers do, too. Last year, for example, we asked our customers to contribute to a more sustainable society by participating in our 'watermonsters' initiative where our customers collected water samples in their neighbourhoods to help the Natuur & Milieu Foundation learn more about water quality across the Netherlands.

We also connect with our customers around specific themes and in unique settings. For example, two years ago, we started hosting 'sustainable banking' festivals for our younger customers – it is amazing to see customers connecting around a common theme. But, above all, it is about working with our customers to deliver on our mutual mission of building a more sustainable society."

SNS: A personal difference

"At SNS, our focus is on helping our customers become financially resilient. And we do this in a personal way – by being close to our customers. That is where we make a difference – whether it is online or in our branches, our goal is to be there at the moments that matter and in ways that meet the needs of our customers.

We encourage and help our employees to put the customer at the centre of their activities. We believe that open conversations with employees are key, not only to align on our mission, but also to learn from those colleagues working closely with our customers, uncovering insights about what is particularly relevant to them. We believe that, together, we can make a difference for our customers.

In order to ensure that we remain close to our customers and interact with them in a personal way, we have developed single customer teams. These small teams made up of local employees provide a personal point of contact for customers and a familiar face they can meet in our branches. And if a customer prefers to call or text, they will talk to the same team. Regardless of the channel, our customers have a personal connection.

We trust our employees and have empowered them to solve complaints in the most suitable way – whether that's directly in our branches, on the phone or online. This provides our employees with a level of responsibility and a close connection to our customers which often results in a better solution for our customers than we would have achieved through standard processes (like fixed monetary compensation, for example). This has really motivated our employees. And happy employees lead to happier customers – a win-win for everyone."

A focus on the future

"Our mission of 'banking with a human touch' is what unites us. It is part of who we are, whether it is de Volksbank in general or one of our brands specifically – it is our mission that collectively and intrinsically motivates us.

Over the past four years, we have worked hard to develop and invest in our mission. And we plan to continue our efforts to create an impact on society while helping our brands be the best they can be. For ASN Bank, this means pursuing their goal of creating a more sustainable society. At SNS, it is about strengthening our focus on financial resilience.

And, in every case, we need to continue communicating about what we do. That is how we will help customers and society to recognise us as the bank that does things differently. A bank that is there for its customers. Now, and at those future 'moments of truth' that really matter."

Marinka van der Meer - CCO De Volksbank

Joyce van der Est - Director ASN Bank

Ton Timmerman - Director SNS