Permanent bank identification details: invented by Societe Generale
In the summer of 1999, Societe Generale introduced the concept of assigning its customers permanent bank identification details, an innovative tool designed to foster customer loyalty across the France network, and a reflection of its technical know-how.
On 20 August 1999, Societe Generale became the first of the large international banks to use permanent bank details for its customers. At the dawn of the 21st century, this was an innovation that gave it an edge over its main rivals in fostering customer loyalty and winning new customers. The project, entitled "Neutralité des transferts" (neutral transfer management), came at a time when the Group was significantly expanding its retail banking activities on all market segments throughout France.
The focus was on commercial innovation, quality of service and customer loyalty. To facilitate transaction management for its customers, Societe Generale offered them a "lifelong account number" free of charge. Having permanent bank details meant the customer kept the same bank identification details (bank number, branch number, account number and bank code) whenever they transferred to a new bank branch (France network). Customers now got to keep the same account number no matter how many times they changed address during their lifetime. Implementation of the system was all the more complex since it involved every IT application used by the network: account keeping, lending, securities, etc. But the technical difficulties were overcome in a bid to best meet customers' expectations.
For the bank, it offered a genuine competitive edge as it meant the escheat of bank accounts could be avoided and customers were spared the many tasks involved in transferring to a new bank branch (transmission of the new bank details to their employers, public bodies, social security bodies, energy suppliers, etc.). Thanks to its technical know-how and dynamic approach Societe Generale demonstrated that customer satisfaction was a key priority. It also showed it was ahead of the curve in building the bank of the 21st century.