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Introducing the Little Black Book

05 Dec 2008 

first direct has launched the Little Black Book, an online community site exclusively for its customers. The first site of its kind to be offered by a UK bank, it is a unique source of information and personal recommendation, where first direct customers can share their insights into and experiences of the UK’s ‘hidden gems’. Whether that’s a fantastic restaurant, an unusual boutique, a home-from-home B&B, an amazing plumber, or an inspirational place to visit with the kids. From this week, all customers are able to access the site and log in with a unique personal log-in and password, which will remain valid as long as they continue to be a first direct customer.

Mark Mullen, head of marketing at first direct said: "We’re hoping to create a real buzz about our latest online initiative. We wanted to provide a truly useful and interactive added value service by our customers for our customers. They are a like minded group of people who choose to bank with us because we tend to do things a little differently from mainstream High Street Banks."

"We want our customers to use this as a forum to share their personal recommendations of great places and great service with each other. This isn’t about run of the mill day to day places or people you’d expect to find in a regular City listing or local directory. It’s about those surprising hidden gems that you’d have to go back to or tell all your friends about."

Customers are being informed about the Little Black Book by email, Internet Banking teasers and secure messaging. It will also be advertised on via banners and a promotional link.

Search categories range from retail therapy to the great outdoors and home improvements. Searchable by postcode, it lets customers add new entries and review past recommendations locally and across the UK. Email and RSS alerts are available, notifying them of new recommendations or posts in their area.

Examples of the types of personal accounts on the Little Black Book:

Yorkshire Sculpture Park
"I can never decide what time of year is best to visit the Sculpture Park… I've tried going in every season. Summer means kicking back under the trees admiring the tranquility of the scattered sculptures, winter means frost kissed trees and glittering lakes, in spring the place smells amazing... Fresh and free, but actually I think Autumn wins. The colours of the trees here are amazing and become the perfect backdrop for the art provided by Gormley, Moore and co. The cafe is also lovely and with its outdoor terrace it's the perfect place for a latte and a huge homemade scone."

Borough Market, London
"Make sure you ask for a double down at Borough Market on Fridays and Saturdays. Look for the longest queue and you are sure to find the tastiest sandwich on the planet. Barbecue chorizo sausage with rocket and a sweet pepper inside an olive oil covered toasted ciabatta. Unbelievable, and if you ask for a double you get two chorizo and two peppers. You'll wish you had. If you need more then take some home from the Brindisa shop located in the market."

The site is not linked in any way to the customer’s first direct banking accounts. Although the site is free to add comments without approval, first direct does retain the right to adapt or remove content if it is required.

first direct recently came first in the latest research from the Top 50 Call Centres for Customer Service. The direct bank scored 92% in the UK's biggest ever call centre benchmarking exercise, conducted by independent market research company GfK NOP. The overall Top 50 average was 83%.


Media enquiries to: Jessica Balls/Lizzie Harrison/Maunie Catcheside Consolidated PR on 020 7781 23 08 / 51,, and

Or Amanda Brown at first direct on 0113 2766 700 or

Note to Editors:

first direct is a division of HSBC Bank plc. © HSBC Bank plc 2008. All Rights Reserved. Member HSBC Group.

HSBC in the UK: HSBC serves 15.6 million customers in the UK and employs approximately 58,000 people. In the UK, HSBC offers a complete range of personal, premier and private banking services, commercial banking for small to media businesses and corporate and institutional banking services. HSBC is Britain's most recommended big bank, and a wholly owned subsidiary of HSBC Holdings plc. HSBC Holdings plc, the parent company of the HSBC Group, is headquartered in London. The Group serves customers worldwide from more than 9,500 offices in 85 countries and territories in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, the Americas, the Middle East and Africa. With assets of US$2,547 billion at 30 June 2008, HSBC is one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organisations. HSBC is marketed worldwide as ‘the world’s local bank’.

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