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Social Banks

Social Banks

Social Banks is a group that aims to discuss trends and debate as the financial services take their first steps into social media. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc..debate all here.

What happens when all my customers use Twitter to complain?

28 September 2011  |  8821 views  |  3

I recently realised that this is a question that all my clients raise when they begin engaging with their customers through social media.

It was a question I was starting to dread because I wasn’t sure that I had a response.

What they mean is: “If we start to provide customer service on Twitter, won’t everyone start using it and then it will become just another customer service route, the same as any other?”

And what they are really asking is: “Aren’t we just spending a lot of time and effort for something that we are offering already, just in another place?”

It’s a fair point, which is why I’ve been reluctant to address this question head on until now… 

What will happen

Many people see Twitter as a fast route to resolution.  It feels personal and dedicated in terms of the service that users receive.

Financial service brands that understand this and offer this type of service through Twitter reap huge benefits in terms of positive sentiment and advocacy.

But the people that use Twitter for customer service are still early adopters (only 1 in ten people in the UK use Twitter at the moment*). The majority of complaints and queries still go through the traditional channels of telephone and email.

This will inevitably change over time.  More people will start to use Twitter, more banks will start to offer customer service via this route and more customers will recognise that you can get your problem resolved quicker than via the call centre (no more sitting on hold for hours!)

As the volume of online queries increases and the initiative scales, Twitter becomes just another touch point, no different to the call centre. 

When Twitter customer service becomes business as usual, will my complaint still be dealt with more quickly and is it more likely to be resolved?

I think possibly not – not if brands continue to place the same value on customer service that they do currently.

What you need to do

The rise of social media has meant that customer service has already undergone some scrutiny within most financial service companies.  Customers have a voice now and banks face a very public backlash if they don’t service their customers well.

In fact this has been the driver for many banks to look at Twitter as a customer service medium in the first place, the argument being that if users are complaining online, it is better to engage and help them than leave them angry and vociferous.

But what has happened in many cases is that banks have seen this as the end point, they don’t ask, “what next?”. Well guess what?  Setting up a customer service account on Twitter is not the end, it’s just the beginning…

Banks need to continue this journey by undertaking a sustained re-evaluation of the role of customer service, not just in social media but in the business as a whole.

At the moment people are complaining on social media because they get better service than they do on existing channels.  Making the service they get on social media the same as the other channels is not a long-term solution!

The rise of social media has led to demands for better customer service and businesses have to adjust to this and meet this demand across all channels.

Customer service 2.0 requires more respect for and better relationships with customers, better connectivity (with customers and internal staff) and a commitment to feed learnings back to the wider business to provide genuine improvements to their products and services. 

Banks should also have an eye to the future to see how they can evolve and enhance their service offerings in the future, for example,

_      How can they use the information that they have to help users, e.g. by using monitoring to anticipate user problems and resolve them proactively

_      How can they blend their engagement to offer a more holistic experience for customers, e.g. so that they offer more than customer service, but also garner ideas and opinions, reward loyalty and provide genuinely helpful tools and content

Banks must recognise that the quality and speed of their response is the keystone of their entire customer service offering and try and bring the value that they currently provide in Twitter to their other channels.

That way, when your customers do complain, the experience will be great regardless of where they choose to do it.  Hell, you may even find that they don’t have anything to complain about in the first place.

*Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/pda/2010/aug/11/twitter-growth


TagsRetail banking

Comments: (5)

John Dring
John Dring - Intel Network Services - Swindon | 28 September, 2011, 10:22

Personally, I really like the 'live-chat' options some banks offer.  This gets me through to a real person who has the time to think before answering my query, and I get a log of what I was told too.  I can do this while I carry on with my day job without having to set aside 20 minutes to work through a call centre.

At first I thought you were suggesting that banks deliberately made it hard for customers to complain!  That certainly seems to be a Ryan Air approach.  Lets face it, we increasingly have to navigate 0870 priced numbers, IVR system that loop round themselves, CSR agents based 1000's of miles away, and each step is a barrier to bothering to complain.

Ideally, these complaint channels simply need to be converged at the outset.  There is no point is setting up a silo'd complaints channel and then one system not knowing that you raised an issue on another.... it comes down to an integrated CRM system.

All a Twitter response really needs to do is respond with the web URL where the customer can interact.  Half the problem is finding that start point.

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Chris Errington
Chris Errington - None - London | 28 September, 2011, 15:06

For volume customer businesses, you either need to take social media [e.g. Twitter] seriously or not bother at all.  Your blog is spot on.

I asked a question of Garmin (retailer) via Twitter but no answer.

Just barely mentioned Metro Bank (bank) on Twitter and they were all over it and started following me...

Metro has clearly decided to follow their convictions and strategy; the customer is always right - engage with them on their terms.

Garmin clearly don't see the shadow of a big Apple rolling their way.

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A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 29 September, 2011, 09:25

Speaking of customers using twitter and facebook to complain and big apples rolling... I couldn't help see the connection.




Seems there's more ado than meets the eye...

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Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 29 September, 2011, 13:19

Having personally used both channels for complaints, I see a few major differences between Twitter and the service provider's (e.g. bank) dedicated channels (e.g. call center, website): 

  1. Twitter complaints can be unstructured - even frustrations and exasperations can get onboard Twitter before they are formed fully enough to fit into service provider's structured complaint channels.
  2. Complaints on Twitter can get magnified via retweets by followers in the public domain, whereas service provider's complaint channels are one-on-one. To that extent, the former channel poses reputation risk whereas the latter is only subject to internal management. 
  3. I'm not sure if it's technically impossible, but I've never received autoresponders in response to my complaints over Twitter - either I get a quick response or don't hear back at all. 

When it comes to how banks and other service providers should treat Twitter complaints - respond or stonewall - something tells me that they'll use the same ROI approach to planning any investments in this space as they do for all their other investments!

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A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 08 October, 2011, 00:42

I just get concerned when I hear (although I agree) that the question the banks will pose is “Aren’t we just spending a lot of time and effort for something that we are offering already, just in another place?”.  Why are more banks not asking the question "why are customers moving to Twitter? What are we doing badly with the other communication channels?" ?

The notion of "Making the service they get on social media the same as the other channels" is scary as it implies that the service via new social media channels will get dragged down.

But I also think that understanding of customer service via social media channels is still in its infancy and we have all got much to learn.  I have yet to see any analysis of the types of questions being posed via the different channels - am I the only one who reserves my twitter-based customer service comments for complaints? Or is this a wide-spread practice?  If so then maybe customer service related to Twitter has to be vastly different from customer service via a call center, via chat etc.

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