Citi Is Trying to be Consumer-Centric

Citi's chief executive Vikram Pandit using the video chat at the new NYC branch. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty images

For the New Year, Citigroup is introducing a number of new credit cards, eliminating a few old ones, and offering consumers new perks. However, understanding and fully taking advantage of those perks – with a variety of fees and rules tacked on – could prove to be difficult, according to the New York TimesYour Money column.

The bank also made a big show of the grand opening of a new branch in NYC last week, which the Times says is one of many planned for cities nationwide in an effort to “bolster its consumer business.”

“Through social networking and Facebook and Twitter and mobile phones and Internet technology, it really is a very different world, and consumers and customers want to be served in a very different way,” Citi chief Vikram Pandit said at the opening ceremony.

The branch features tons of flat screens for everything from information to video chat with a bank rep. However, when asked about the cost of the branch or any possible changes to executive compensation, the execs in attendance shut down.

While Citi is selling the changes as better customer service, there’s still the issue of transparency and clarity that the company has to deal with in order to really build trust with consumers. In both stories, there is emphasis on things being shiny and new. That’s nice, but customers also want old-fashioned plain speaking, especially from the banking industry.