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Banks Are Boring on Social Media

A report from Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group polled consumers on their experience with financial institutions on social media.

A majority of consumers believe that banks' use of social media is ineffective, according to findings from a poll released today by Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group.

The firm polled 1,002 U.S. consumers online in an attempt to to uncover the important drivers for financial institutions to be successful in managing customer complaints and social media preparedness. Fifty-two percent of those who responded said they believe the use of social media by banks is ineffective, while 87 percent reported banks are "annoying, boring or unhelpful" on social media.

This is largely due to the messaging many banks present on social media channels, explains Dr. Patricia Sahm, CG’s Customer Experience and Channels practice lead.

Social media is about transparency, and if a bank's response to a customer's inquiry on social media isn't transparent or relevant it will come off as sounding unhelpful, she says. "Banks need to make their customers feel like they've resolved whatever problem there is and not give an ambiguous answer," Sahm notes.

As an example of what not to do on social media, Sahm cites one customer's story of sending a tweet at a bank alerting them that their mobile banking app was down, and the bank simply responded to the customer telling them to call an 800 number with no further information. That then led to the customer to complain about the bank on Twitter.

Even if a bank can't solve a problem immediately on social media, it should still give the customer as much information as possible and update them on when it will be solved. Banks that do rate highly on social media generally follow a model Sahm describes thusly: "They have a centralized social media team that can quickly reach out to the various subject matter experts at the bank to help answer customer questions quickly. Enabling your social media team to have really good, and quick, access to all the expertise in the bank, and access to data that sits in various stores across the enterprise, helps them answer customer questions or complaints much better."

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Sahm acknowledges that banks do face an inherent disadvantage on social media compared to other industries, namely that "financial services products may not be the most exciting thing people are thinking about every day." But that still does not absolve them of doing social media well, since it is often the channel customers use most to lodge complaints. According to the survey, one in three consumers would use social media to complain, with 54 percent saying Facebook would be the channel they would do so on. That was followed by Twitter at 18 percent, LinkedIn at 12 percent and blogs at 10 percent.

Sahm says that the responses to the survey were generally the same across age and demographic lines, meaning its not just one subset of customers banks have to worry about on social media.

Ultimately, says Sahm, regardless of the channel it is imperative for banks to resolve problems as quickly as they can for their customers.

"The minute it seems like you're not resolving the problem, it can very rapidly deteriorate the relationship," she adds.

[Related Content: How Banks Can Stay On Top of Customer Expectations]

Bryan Yurcan is associate editor for Bank Systems and Technology. He has worked in various editorial capacities for newspapers and magazines for the past 8 years. After beginning his career as a municipal and courts reporter for daily newspapers in upstate New York, Bryan has ... View Full Bio

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Becca L
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Becca L,
User Rank: Author
3/27/2014 | 9:16:16 PM
re: Banks Are Boring on Social Media
As long as there's not a major issue to address on a weekly basis I think customers will be understanding. People aren't exactly trigger happy about switching banks - it's a thought process that builds up, a social media blunder can be the straw that breaks the camel's back but it's probably not going to be the main event.
Greg MacSweeney
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Greg MacSweeney,
User Rank: Author
3/27/2014 | 7:57:03 PM
re: Banks Are Boring on Social Media
Most customers are reasonable and know that 'stuff happens.' Own up to it, be open about the problems, get it fixed and move on. Ignoring the problem just allows the problem to get worse.
Becca L
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Becca L,
User Rank: Author
3/26/2014 | 5:08:42 PM
re: Banks Are Boring on Social Media
Ha, well if you're going to walk around this world expecting everything to go smoothly and find all blips inexcusable, you're going to have a bad time.
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Author
3/25/2014 | 12:17:09 PM
re: Banks Are Boring on Social Media
While I can see how that kind of message would frustrate impatient customers, I agree with you. If I didn't at least get some kind of "we're working on it" message, I'd be more annoyed.
Nathan Golia
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Nathan Golia,
User Rank: Author
3/24/2014 | 8:06:16 PM
re: Banks Are Boring on Social Media
In fact, they are using your fees and deposits to pay the people operating the social media presence Gă÷ expeditious response is the least they can do!
Nathan Golia
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Nathan Golia,
User Rank: Author
3/24/2014 | 8:05:07 PM
re: Banks Are Boring on Social Media
That is the question, isn't it? What will it take to get people to engage with all the effort we're putting into social media? It comes back to ROI. However, being an engaged company online might have unmeasurable benefits. If people know that you're at least trying you can get crucial messages out faster. See the conversation below about banks informing their customers about downtime on social.
Nathan Golia
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Nathan Golia,
User Rank: Author
3/24/2014 | 8:02:56 PM
re: Banks Are Boring on Social Media
Thanks Erica. That's something we've seen in insurance Gă÷ brands are trying to appear in their customers' feeds and demonstrate the value of the product and the security of the company through the content they choose to share through that channel.
Jonathan_Camhi
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Jonathan_Camhi,
User Rank: Author
3/24/2014 | 7:46:02 PM
re: Banks Are Boring on Social Media
You're a patient customer. I think companies wish all their customers were willing to wait it out like that.
Becca L
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Becca L,
User Rank: Author
3/24/2014 | 7:29:44 PM
re: Banks Are Boring on Social Media
On the other side of this, I find it encouraging when a company can say "we're aware of the issue and working diligently to correct it, we appreciate your patience." Ignoring the problem makes me think they dont care about the user experience, a more "bare with us" attitude makes me feel like they know my pain. Good customer service is just more important to me than functionality - I'd rather be screwed over with a smile.
Becca L
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Becca L,
User Rank: Author
3/24/2014 | 7:02:03 PM
re: Banks Are Boring on Social Media
Yup, Whenever something isn't working I immediately turn to Twitter for comments like "Is anyone else having problems with X today?" In fact, that scenario is my earliest memory of finding Twitter useful. And to Jon's point, I also checked it when we had that random earthquake in NYC/DC - "did anyone else feel that?"
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