Banks Struggle with Social Media
| Published: January 26, 2012 | Comments
As financial institutions increase their multichannel services to include social media, they struggle with the common stumbling block of operationalizing it as a customer service channel in the contact center: response times, accuracy, quality and security. But the financial foray into social customer service also pushes customer segmentation to the fore.
"More than two thirds of American adults use social media, led by 74% of adults logging in to Facebook at least once a week," according to a new report from Javelin Strategy & Research. “This explosion of interest in social media spans all age groups, income levels, and ethnicities—and is compelling financial institutions to interact with the first wave of social media-savvy customers where they hang out.”
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The statistics are staggering (and so quickly out of date): Some 1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) URLs, 110 million blogs, 350 million Facebook users, 27 million tweets sent per day – to name a few. It’s perhaps easier to relate to the stories in which social media has played a key role; i.e., protests in Iran, rescue efforts in Haiti, the elections of Barak Obama and Scott Brown, the groundswell of concern around Toyota’s recall – and so many others.
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The research targeted the personal finance behaviors toward social media of customers at Bank of America, Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo. The study revealed that while most Americans are resistant to mixing social media and personal finances, one in ten consumers are comfortable using social media sites to review or check account balances.
Throughout the weeks of vocal protest spanning Bank of America’s announcement and retraction of $5 debit card fees, Bank Transfer Day, and Occupy Wall Street protests, Twitter volume jumped threefold at the customer service "handles" at these three banks: Citi, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo. Citi appeared to be doing the best job of providing direct answers to consumers’ questions via Twitter and was able to resolve 36% of its conversations within Twitter. In what areas of social customer service did these financial institutions succeed, and how could they have bolstered their success?
During the study, many customer complaints or outreach efforts via social channels went unanswered. Javelin identified two primary reasons: the contact centers and/or marketing departments were not staffed to handle the demand; and customers were intuiting the banks social media handles rather than using official handles.
Organizations that adopt social media as an access channel must realize that social media is a 24/7 environment. Marketing often kicks off and owns the social experience, but leading brands are quickly realizing that the call center plays a vital role in serving the channel and adopts staffing and access protocol to handle the traffic.
But all the traffic needs to be accounted for. Monitoring only dedicated social media accounts doesn’t capture all of the conversations. Social media monitoring tools – free or otherwise – can help the organization scout the Web for customers in need so that they can have a better chance of solving more issues.
Accuracy and Quality
While information published on the study doesn’t cover accuracy directly, it’s important to keep this performance metric in mind. Information shared in this real-time environment needs to be directly related to a solution, whether it’s an on-the-spot resolution or a redirect to web pages or live agents. An enabling trend among leading organizations in social customer service is integration of social channels with customer relationship management platforms. For example, Salesforce.com’s acquisition of Radian6 allows contact centers to populate social media information into the CRM. And when these transactions are captured, they can be monitored for quality and used for coaching new and experienced agents handling the social media channel.
An additional benefit of integration of social CRM is that it can help lessen customer frustration. Just as computer telephony integration (CTI) helps customers move seamlessly between channels without having to repeat account information and their issues, social CRM integration should aim to achieve the seamless transfer from Twitter to live agent.
Security: One and Done?
Customers may be increasingly comfortable with using social media sites to review or check account balances, as the Javelin study says, but data security and fraud prevention should remain top of mind in social customer service. This means that not every transaction can be resolved through popular social channels. Some customers will need to be guided to other channels to successfully resolve the contact issue. The industry has come to believe that the first channel a customer uses is the preferred channel and should establish the continued method of contact; in social customer service, however, it is becoming apparent that social channels are not always the most appropriate for complete resolution and customer satisfaction. The call center and organization should work together to establish guided transfer protocols.
Customer Satisfaction through Segmentation
Javelin reports that customer segmentation may help organizations succeed with social customer service. To define target segments as your organization establishes or enhances its integration of the social channel, consider the answers to these questions:
• How many consumers are engaged with social media?
• What are the fastest-growing demographic segments in the past year?
• Are consumers willing to mix personal finance and social media?
• Which segments are most open-minded and should be targeted first?
• What banking transactions and activities are they most willing to consider doing in conjunction with social media?
Many of the answers can be found in customer data and in market research. Customers, too, can help answer these questions through surveys and feedback forms.
It's safe to say that banks are struggling with many of the same issues around customer social service that other industries are facing. Organizations that are succeeding here are notable for their thoughtful approach to operationalizing this channel, and their contact centers play a critical role in their success.
Social Media, Learning & Development, Site Operations, Technology
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