September 19, 2012 - 7:21 AM
Social media, with over one billion monthly active visitors, has become an obvious choice for enterprises when it comes to brand promotion and customer engagement. With an exposure to such a huge user base, banking institutions (especially retail banks) from all around the world are trying their hands on social media to leverage its popularity. Many banks are promoting their products and services on social media. Bank of America did a survey on facebook to find its most popular credit card and also showcased its mobile app to access bank account details. Citi Bank recently posted a campaign on adoption of credit card e-statements and go paperless.
Some banks have started providing certain level of customer service. ASB New Zealand has a dedicated team on Facebook to respond to customer inquiries and doubts; named it as “virtual branch.” Some others have created corporate pages on Social websites like Facebook and Twitter to connect with the existing customers and the outside world in a more personal way and build a community like experience. ASB Bank is a good example for this. It conducts lots of fun activities to engage visitors.
There are multiple ways in which a bank can make use of social media:
Brand Image Building
Banks are trying hard to regain their lost image during last few years and rebuild customer confidence and trust in them. Banks can use social media to propagate the company ideologies, new developments and services, best practices in place and important product information. This would create connect with the visitors and help build their confidence in the brand.
With such a vast user base, social media can be used to launch new products to the market, promote existing products and services at very less cost when compared with other marketing channels. For e.g. ICICI bank promotes online gold purchases on social media with attractive offers. This offer is visible to their 800k odd followers on facebook. It is not possible to reach these many people using other channels without spending a big fortune.
Customers generally complain that they do not get full information on the products. There are always some unanswered questions. If a bank is active on social media, it can answer all the queries, concerns and help customers taking a well informed decision. This results into a satisfied customer spreading good word of mouth for the bank.
Social media is a two way collaboration mechanism. People on the web share their views, provide feedbacks and write their experiences. Not only the banks can promote their brand and products, they can also gain useful insights from the user generated content. The user inquiries, preferences and feedbacks can be analyzed through a social analytics tool to check popularity of existing products, identify ‘unbanked segments’ and create personalized campaigns. For e.g. if people are talking about fixed rate v/s floating rate loans, processing charges; a bank can relate these views to identify the market sentiments like what’s the preferred processing fee range for floating or fixed rate loans? Which one is more preferred: fixed rate or floating rate loan? Are people feeling the heat paying the processing charges?
Through social networks customers can be reached to a more personal level. Gaining additional information from social networks can help identifying the hidden segments which can be used for personalized campaigns. For instance, a customer belongs to the segment of age group 30-40. By analyzing his social activities, it can be found if he is a high spender or low spender. Accordingly, the customer can be approached with personalized campaigns.
But, what's the effective method to get all these advantages from social media? The ideal way is to integrate social media with your website and manage content from a single location. A web experience management solution can prove very effective here. It can help integrate your website with social media, the analytics engine and any other support applications required. Using Social media management tools, you can control your company’s facebook and twitter pages from here, provide updates, and comment on discussions, blogs and also setup workflows for auto update of company’s information, events on the web. With defined approval process for outgoing content, various risks related to content publication can be minimized. You can also monitor the visitor activities and identify top trends of discussions, market sentiments, customer behavior etc.
So far so good! How about accessing your financial details through social media? You login to your facebook account and access your bank portfolio using the same. Would you like that? Or we are still in the age where we have concerns over security and privacy on social websites?
While allowing access to bank account portfolios through social media certainly brings a level of easiness and comfort to a customer, it also brings big concerns over privacy and security matters. What if my activity of accessing the bank details gets published on Facebook wall or worse the snapshot of my bank account summary comes up for public view? What if the other applications on Facebook can access my bank details? There are more concerns like that which needs to addressed.
CBA, Australia is planning to launch a Facebook application on similar lines. While social media is definitely a good way for banks to connect with customers and extend their reach, they have to carefully watch out for regulatory issues surrounding social media especially when it comes to dealing with a customer’s financial information. We will have to wait and see if all these concerns are taken care of in this application and mark the beginning of a new era in social media and banking.
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