AP Private | September – October 

Recently, an affluent tourist spent a couple of days in Forte dei Marmi. He had been invited to dine with a group of collectors of modern and contemporary art by a young art dealer. So, he took the opportunity to spend a couple of days at the sea.

Through the reception of his very exclusive hotel, he booked a pavilion (the “Private” version of the beach umbrella) in one of the best-known beach resorts in Forte: first row along the seafront, two beach loungers, two chaise longues, an armchair, a boot for personal effects, beach towels, all perfectly coordinated, and a bell to order from the bar without leaving the beach.

Impressed by such elegance, the client booked a table for lunch. Of course, he had quite high expectations. However, at lunchtime the nightmare began: unmotivated personnel, a menu printed on a crumpled and stained piece of paper, a long and draining wait unjustified by the admittedly low number of clients.

To make matters worse, the food had too much oil despite having required dishes with little condiment; moreover, between courses, the dishes were left on the (wobbly!) table.

When the tourist returned to the beach and chatted with some regular customers – renowned entrepreneurs and businessmen – he found comfort in hearing that many of them complained about the lack of a service worth of Forte and justified their presence by saying “I would like to change beach resort, but my family has been a customer for three generations”.

The following day, the tourist decided to change beach resort and location. He chose the lower-end Viareggio and the oldest resort in Italy, admittedly less glamorous than the beach resort in Forte.

It was a unique experience: a reception fit for a prince and, at lunchtime, a perfectly set table; moreover, attentive waiters and a flawless service accompanied, in a masterly way, a succession of perfectly cooked dishes.

Overall, this episode exemplifies the difference between appearance and substance, image and reality.

Similarly, some private banks benefit from a fine image, but are unable to give clients an experience worthy of their expectations.

On the other hand, some banks focus entirely on the service dedicated to private clients; they invest by educating and recruiting experienced professionals, they offer valuable services and dedicate great care to their clients, whose level of satisfaction is constantly monitored.

For this reason, these banks are gaining ground and acquiring market shares to the detriment of those who rely on advantages which are currently melting like snow in the sun.

The Private client’s experience at the two Versilia beach resorts suggests another consideration, by no means trivial: the expectations of clients strongly affect their level of satisfaction.

When it comes to Forte dei Marmi, the expectations were high and unmet; on the other hand, the expectations towards Viareggio were maybe lower, but vastly exceeded.

Considering the image of the bank, the level of satisfaction of clients and their expectations should be the mantra of any good private banker, or at least of those who wish to have a future.

Nicola Ronchetti