'Punch bag' RBS fights back with proactive approach to social media

'Punch bag' RBS fights back with proactive approach to social media

Its reputation in the gutter, the Royal Bank of Scotland has embarked on an aggressive, proactive social media programme designed to help win over disgruntled customers.

RBS has taken heavy flack on the likes of Twitter and Facebook over the last two years, with customers rushing to bemoan everything from poor service to IT meltdowns and ethical lapses at the bank.

Speaking the day after publication of two damning reports into its treatment of small business customers, RBS's managing director of digital banking, Chris Popple admits that it has become a "punch bag". To help counter the negativity, the bank has built up a 'social response team' dedicated to dealing with customers on social media sites.

Between them, RBS and its NatWest unit now engage in around 3000 conversations a week on Twitter. The number is tiny compared to the 300,000 calls made to the bank's contact centres every seven days but the tweeting is proving invaluable, Popple told MarketForce's 'future of retail banking' conference in London.

This is because around 30% of tweet conversations are proactive, with RBS seeking out disgruntled customers and offering help before it is approached, a move not possible at call centres and appreciated by users.

Similar conversations are being had on Facebook, which provides a platform from which the bank can broadcast its message to millions of people every week as well as approach individual customers.

Popple also gave his audience an insight into how the bank decides which new digital services to introduce. Last summer RBS and NatWest added a 'GetCash' feature to their mobile apps, enabling customers to withdraw money from ATMs without their cards.

The feature was rolled out after call centre workers noticed that a small number of young female "frequent offenders" were calling on weekends to report their cards missing and request codes so that they could use ATMs.

The women were leaving their purses - but not their mobile phones - at home when they went clubbing. Spotting a niche market opportunity RBS introduced the GetCash tool, which is now used around 25,000 times a week.

Using customer data wisely to offer new products and services was also the theme of a presentation from Jon Deutsch, VP of banking, capital markets and insurance at business intelligence vendor Information Builders.

With 'big data' a key buzz phrase of the moment, banks are finally waking up to the potential value of the years' worth of information they have on their customers.

Deutsch argues that the best way to exploit the data is to push it back to customers via personal finance management services. Mainstream banks have so far been reluctant to share information with customers but are beginning to recognise the strategy's value as new data-centric players such as tech giants and supermarkets begin to sniff around the financial services market.

Similarly, while PFM has yet to capture the public's imagination, Deutsch claims that by moving beyond simple budgeting tools and taking advantage of the mobile channel for things such as personalised geolocation-based offers and price comparison services, new players such as Simple and Moven are demonstrating its potential.

Ultimately though banks will be swayed by the revenue potential PFM offers them through fees and increased transactions.

Comments: (1)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 28 November, 2013, 11:58Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

3K tweets v. 300K calls per week? Drunk on the Kool-Aid of social media customer service as I am, this is a wake up call that new media communication channels still have a long, long way to go. 

Gain Social Media And Lose The Call Center Hold Music

But, I'm sure things will change when customers realize that you can get a lot more done with a call and a tweet than with a call alone.