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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
3/20/2014 | 5:34:58 PM
re: Banks Are Boring on Social Media
The only time directing to a phone number is best is if it's a very specific number. Ex: This department (#) can give more details than we can fit in 140 characters. If they are just going to give the generic 1800 number I don't know why they would bother.
vernorson
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vernorson,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/20/2014 | 12:24:36 PM
re: Banks Are Boring on Social Media
Banks don't have to be always boring on social media - at least in Poland there was an advert that went viral (or actually a memetic mutation containing really naughty word said by banking female clerk went viral) see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...
Guest
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Guest,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/19/2014 | 8:42:16 PM
re: Banks Are Boring on Social Media
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JChesky
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JChesky,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/19/2014 | 6:58:24 PM
re: Banks Are Boring on Social Media
Bryan, congrats. Finally someone has put some data around this notion of consumers allegedly waiting for an FI's digital strategy to include a prerequisite 'SM' component. FI web ecosystems are a bad mash-up of stale brochureware and an unispired entry point for online banking services, period. I don't believe that will change until bank's have the courage to ask themselves a simple question - 'What am I willing to offer to my customers in my digital eco-system in exchange for their digital attention, their engagement and their permission?"
We think customers want an online eco-system that supports their financial services needs just like they get from Overstock.com or Amazon.com for their shopping, comparing and buying of commodities. We need to create an E-Branch where consumers can shop, compare, buy, enjoy a single check-out, and have a post sale online account that captures records of what they bought, how they paid for it, information about their account, and if needed again, account information that will be automatically stored and retrievable. Think Amazon Prime of Club O. And allowing consumers to comment and share their experiences inside this 'financial services' digitial store ---- with ratings/stars/likes ---- now we'd be onto something. And boy would they be engaged.
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Author
3/19/2014 | 6:49:46 PM
re: Banks Are Boring on Social Media
Great points, Erica - I think you're right that certain banking topics will generate more interest on social media than others. In addition to improving their responses to customer inquiries, banks could improve their social media reputation by linking to interesting content and sparking conversations with their followers. It could also be worth investigating the ages of different account followers so that banks would have a better idea of what to post on each page.
Erica Starr
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Erica Starr,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/19/2014 | 6:07:33 PM
re: Banks Are Boring on Social Media
I 100% agree with the points around the use of social media needing to be transparent and handled real-time. That said, this makes it sound like the only place for social media for FIs is troubleshooting and handling complaints. I'm not sure that I'm on board with that idea. SM is a place for a FI to engage with their customers and show them the "human" side of banking. While checking and savings products aren't the most exciting topics to discuss on Facebook (or anywhere for that matter), how to save for college and/or top picks for 529 savings plans might be....to the right person AT the right time in their life. So its more about using SM as a medium to push the most relevant topic to the most relevant segment at the most relevant time. That said, you can run into some issues pushing those specific topics to the masses (all of your followers) and hoping to get much out of it. Its all about being strategic and knowing your audience. If you are only posting about the weather and the latest and greatest new checking account (that probably some online bank is already doing) yes, you're going to get the label of being boring.
KBurger
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KBurger,
User Rank: Strategist
3/19/2014 | 4:14:51 PM
re: Banks Are Boring on Social Media
Do you ever get the feeling that banks/financial services companies just can't win, no matter what they do (at least in the court of public opinion)? There have been some studies recently that suggest that consumers are opposed to FIs using analytics/insight to tailor communications with them, saying this is too intrusive. Then banks get criticized that their use of social media is too bland, generic, boring, etc. So what are they to do? I think some of Sahm's points that use of social media needs to be real-time, responsive to the actual need or inquiry, and human-based is very important. But I suspect that inevitably some banks that get very sophisticated with their uses of social media by incorporating customer insight into it are going to be slammed for, essentially, not being boring enough.
Byurcan
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Byurcan,
User Rank: Author
3/19/2014 | 1:27:55 PM
re: Banks Are Boring on Social Media
That's true, and that was Sahm's advice, having a dedicated team that can get quick responses back to customers is key.
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Author
3/18/2014 | 9:30:08 PM
re: Banks Are Boring on Social Media
I feel like people use social media to work around calling 800 numbers, so using a customer service phone number as a response to someone's complaint was a bad move. Given the amount of respondents saying they'd complain on social media, I think it's worth the time/effort/funds for banks to create dedicated social media teams. That number will only go up over time.
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