First direct dares to share what customers think of it

First direct dares to share what customers think of it

UK virtual bank first direct has begun trawling the Internet for everything that's said about it online and then feeding the information - good or bad - onto its "live" Web site.

The HSBC subsidiary says its "happiness widget" is tracking over eight million forums, blogs and social media sites like Twitter.

The widget shows each posting as a positive, neutral or negative bubble. The bigger the bubble, the stronger the emotion. At the time of publication, "feelings" on the net about first direct were 78% positive, seven per cent neutral and 15% negative.

The site also separates positive and negative words, presenting them in an animation. The bigger the word, the more frequently it has been used about fisrt direct. At the time of publication, 74% of mentions across the Internet about first direct are positive with negative words accounting for 26%.

In addition, the bank has added a section, Talking Point, to the site where customers can leave an open message for it. First direct says it posts all comments - good or bad, and only removes profanities.

Since its introduction two weeks ago, over 2000 people have left a message, the "vast majority" positive.

First direct has made a concerted effort to harness new, Web 2.0 technologies. In June it launched a social media newsroom, tapping sites like Flickr and YouTube to provide news and information through a mash-up of blogs, photos and videos.

Meanwhile, Halifax is trying to tap social media with the launch of a site providing advice and information for home insurance customers. Home Matters contains blogs, videos, competitions and "ask the expert" section.

You can find the first direct live site here and the Halifax Home Matters site here.

Comments: (1)

Matt White
Matt White - Finextra - Toronto 13 October, 2009, 16:43Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

First direct is well known for having a good relationship with its customers (I'm not one) so this seems like a pretty safe bet. I wonder how many other banks would feel confident enough to post what people are saying about them.

Last year I blogged on a similar move by Bank of America ( but the link to customer comments I added doesn't seem to work anymore - I guess a lot's happened over the last few months.