Consumers Have Evolved – Now More Than Ever, Financial Institutions Must Too

Few banks and credit unions today will disagree that consumers, and consumer behavior, have changed with the advent of social media.

Where the divide begins to widen is between institutions that respond to that awareness with prescriptive action vs. those that idle aimlessly — hoping the answer will somehow fall into their laps.

Having received guidance from the FFIEC in December 2013, market participants can no longer hide behind the veil of ignorance regarding establishing their own social media practices.

Notwithstanding the establishment of their internal policies, the single most important move decision-makers in these organizations must make today is identifying a technology partner that can enable their stakeholders to compliantly engage in social media.

The New Paradigm: Consumers in Control

Social media has made the world a much smaller place, creating endless opportunities for consumers and brands to engage in 1:1 dialogue. Unfortunately, being 1:1 isn’t always possible when you’re dealing with thousands of daily conversations.

In order to support bidirectional conversation at scale, institutions need to be equipped with a social infrastructure.

Having the appropriate infrastructure in place — one that is built from a single, native architecture; one that can connect to your legacy systems; and one that can meet for the needs of your entire organization — is paramount to surviving social disruption.

While control may have shifted to consumers, organizations that respond thoughtfully now can — and will — level the playing field.

Are You Compliant?

Many institutions fear that by taking the first step into social media, they will be increasing their risk — quite the contrary.

Regardless of the day of the week, another crisis bubbles up to the top of the headlines.

Whether its rogue posting, account hacks or even just human error, preventative governance and enterprise controls are a must in any environment. This is especially true in regulated industry.

Nowhere to Run

The good news is many leading banks and credit unions aren’t looking to run away from the problem.

Early leaders in leveraging social media like Navy Federal Credit Union and Citi, have proven that the rewards outweigh the risks in leveraging social.

Brands can survive and thrive in this brave new world, but to do so, they’ll require the awareness, vision and desire to execute in this challenging new environment.

The first step in graduating to that level is by ensuring the needs of their entire enterprise are accounted for by their social technology partner.

If not, they will stampeded by the herd of consumers seeking to engage with their brand 1:1 in social media.

 

Tim O'Connor, Global Account Manager, Sprinklr

Tim O’Connor is a Global Account Manager at Sprinklr.  In his role, he builds partnerships with many of the leading global financial services organizations helping to enable their success in social media.  Prior to joining Sprinklr in 2012, Tim spent the previous 11 years as a sales executive in the financial services industry with his tenure including Merrill Lynch and two boutique investment banks in Manhattan.

Social Banking: The Upcoming Phenomenon?

Spain’s CaixaBank bills itself as the leading financial group in its market for both banking and insurance. It’s also just become quite interesting for another reason: It claims to be the first bank in Europe to develop and release a Facebook app that allows enables customers to check bank accounts and even conduct transactions via the world’s biggest social network. And just to draw a little more mileage out of the innovation, the institution will also support small donations to specific charities with this method.

All in all, this is a relatively small deal for now, but what are the chances it will get bigger in the near future? Here’s a hint: The bank will soon extend these services to include other operations, such as person-to-person payments, according to the bank. Other institutions are jumping on the bandwagon too: The ‘Pockets’ service from India’s ICICI Bank (incidentally also billed as a first of its kind) lets customers perform a range of services on this platform, from tracking accounts to sending money to ‘friends.’

Moving west a little, the banking industry in Ireland is also watching Facebook closely, but for somewhat different reasons. This is because just this spring, the global behemoth formally applied for a license from the nation’s central bank to become an e-money institution, giving it the power to issue its own currency. What this means exactly is still a little fuzzy, but some see it as perhaps a more legitimate version of Bitcoin. Speculation has it that the company will focus on remittances, a gigantic market in serious need of transformation.

For the record, even a corporation as traditional as Wal-Mart recently launched a service that enables unbanked consumers to transfer money. While that could worry Western Union, it’s likely a niche service for a niche market. Facebook, however, is another beast altogether—with its global reach and instant access, even a minor nudge could shake the foundations of the banking industry.

Facebook’s attempted strides into the financial services industry, however tentative, have been explored on this blog before, specifically with regard to Facebook Credits. That refers to the virtual currency members can use to buy virtual goods in any games or apps of the Facebook platform that accept payments. Even without getting extensive coverage, the practice earned prominent mention in the company’s IPO filing.

More recently, the company appears to have been moving away that strategy and towards money. In fact, it has been quite active for some time now in helping application developers work on payment processes that uses local currencies. In other words, like many good innovators, it has been hedging its best.

But if that’s what Facebook is doing, what are corporations on the financial services side doing to ensure they don’t come out on the losing end?

It’s easy to see why social media in general could be a boon for communications and a headache for everything else. J.P. Morgan, for example, recently fielded hundreds of angry Tweets after putting in place policies to identify potentially risky transactions. The thinking is that in the old days, when customers had to actually go online, or even draft a letter, when making a compliant, there were fewer complaints; now, when it can be done with a few stabs on the smartphone, there are far more coming in, and each expects a response.

Sure, most predictions about user adoption of new technologies turn out to be wrong. We have no idea which innovation will take off, what changes it will induce. But it’s probably safe to say that the army of social media channels, including Facebook, has changed everything, and it will change banking. Facebook is clearly doing its part to speed the process, and some banks are doing theirs. But are there many that should be doing more?

Is Social Media a Channel?

Social Laptop

A decade ago, the types of channels that brought customers to the final stage of the sales process were very straightforward. Depending on the type of business you have, customers would get to the final stage in person, on the phone, and on the internet. It was simple and business owners were able to develop products and processes around these channels.

Once smart phones and social media entered the market, businesses became confused. How do we incorporate Twitter into the sales funnel? We get plenty of clients from Facebook – surely it’s a channel?

In short, no. Social media is not a channel. Channels are static and they have a specific starting and ending point for the customer. However, customers do expect to be able to start a transaction in one place and easily move to another in order to complete it.

That’s why Alex Bray, Retail Channels Director at Misys Banking Systems, recommends looking at channels in a different way. A customer may start a transaction in store, ask a question over social media, and then go home to order online.

Social media and customer interaction are fluid, so Bray provides a framework that tells us to stop thinking about channels. “The old way of looking at channels has become a hindrance and not a help,” says Bray.

He proposes an “interaction matrix” with four variables. Since all interactions with customers are either person to person or person to machine, there are 4 things that can change:

  • Customer Type – you may want to offer a high value customer a different type of service by phone or branch – or give them more functionality on e-channels
  • Customer Interaction – a customer looking to complete a quick transaction will want a different experience than those looking for advice.
  • Customer Location – a customer using an iPhone walking down the street will use it differently to one sitting on a sofa. A customer using social media will want a different experience to a customer using internet banking
  • Customer Device – an iPad will be used differently to a Smartphone.

The person involved in the interaction and what they are looking for is much more important than the specific channel they are using. We need to think beyond the channel because sales don’t actually occur on social media and in the multichannel market, it’s difficult to track.

When starting a business, we are often tempted to focus on unique channels in order to analyse effectiveness and performance. This, in most cases than not, can help influence where we can invest extra budget based on a return model. However is this siloed approach, which many businesses still adhere to, becoming more of a hindrance then an insight?

Imagine if you were looking purely at sales from a channel perspective, and notice social media is not returning on sales compared to investment. You might be tempted to pull investment from this channel to invest in something like telemarketing which may be performing well and driving sales. However you start to notice that from pulling investment out of social media, sales via other channels start decreasing, performance slows and your ROI is not longer as large. Is this a sign that a business has underestimated a channels (or platforms) influence on a sales journey?

Alex’s matrix allows for business starting out, to truly understand a consumers journey to purchase and how a brand should intercept a consumers process with the correct type of messaging for that stage. For example if Social Media does not convert into direct sales, then there is no need for direct call to actions on that platform. More informative thought pieces or branding pieces can be influential to spark a consumer journey to purchase who may convert on another channel.

The result of this is an integrated approach to the customer experience where the human element is still as important as the technological. These processes need to be seamlessly integrated and conceptualised as a matrix rather than a series of independent elements. Understanding the customer’s needs within the matrix is the key to providing top service experiences and adapting products accordingly.

 

Ian Fergusson is a copywriter expert in financial technology and innovation in affiliation with Misys

Infographic: The Social Customer

Sprout Social recently released an infographic looking at the social customer and how they interact with brands. The results show some interesting stats, including a nod to the banking/finance sector, which had the highest response rate by industry in Q3 of 2013. The full infographic is below. Do you think the banking/finance sector is as responsive as it needs to be? Any of the data below stand out to you? Let us know by tweeting @bankingdotcom.

The Social Customer Infographic” by Sprout Social

The Social Customer Infographic

New Rules (with Old Problems) In Social Media

In many ways, Peach State FCU symbolizes the essence of the credit union industry: Created in 1961 with a specific goal of serving local educators in a few Georgia counties, it now has more than 41,000 members, while employees of all sponsor Boards of Education and select groups and associations are also eligible to join.

Like all good businesses, Peach State likes to stay current, and that’s why, earlier this fall, it launched social media initiatives through promoted posts on Twitter and Facebook. It was working—the institution says it had soon doubled the number of followers. In November, however, Twitter instituted new rules that “restrict the promotion of financial services and related content.”

For the record, this is not an absolute ban. Financial services providers can indeed use promoted posts, but there’s an approval process that must be followed, and some products, such as short-term mortgages, still can’t be publicized.

If Peach State represents one end of the financial services spectrum—a small, focused institution serving a very specific purpose—then JP Morgan Chase surely represents the other. So what can the two have in common?

On December 6, the Wall Street behemoth sent out an innocuous Tweet from its corporate account promoting an upcoming Twitter Q&A about leadership and careers and featuring the hashtag #AskJPM. It was totally innocuous and uncontroversial. . .except for the fact that just a few minutes earlier, Twitter had gone public with underwriting help from Chase. That first Tweet didn’t get much attention, but a second one a week later certainly did. The #AskJPM hashtag soon became a minefield of nasty messages, most flailing the company for its supposed lack of ethics.

Social Media Tablet

While Chase has had its share of PR nightmares in the recent past, from bribery scandals to the Bernie Madoff fiasco, it surely wasn’t expecting this one. The company hastily scrambled to fix the damage, dropping the Q&A as a bad idea and promising to “back to the drawing board.”

Of course, it’s way too late for that. ‘Social business’ isn’t just coming, it’s been here for a while. The lines between personal and corporate communications, previously blurred by a plethora of mobile apps, have been essentially obliterated by the ubiquity of social media. And the problem isn’t that the rules have changed, it’s that they keep changing on a regular basis.

Just this month, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) released its long-awaited guidelines for this process. Officially intended for financial marketers, “Social Media: Consumer Compliance Risk Management Guidance” actually deserves a broader audience in that it provides a clear overview of this rapidly evolving field, covering both the promise and the potential pitfalls. It doesn’t outline new laws per se, but plays an invaluable role in examining common practices and helping to negotiate current regulations.

Case in point: Twitter itself, which experienced a major snafu in this same timeframe. In mid-December, the company sparked howls of protest when it instituted a rule that enabled blocked Twitter users to anonymously view or Tweet the very users who blocked them. It was done with the best of intentions—Twitter wanted to protect those who sought to filter out abusive messages but feared retaliation—but the change had the opposite effect, and the company almost immediately had to reverse course.It’s important to remember that even a document like this, comprehensive as it is, offers little more than a snapshot in time. Regulations in the traditional sense, like Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank, take years to create and implement. Rules around Twitter and LinkedIn, meanwhile, can turn on a dime, evolving as fast as the technologies that enable them.

The simple truth is that new technologies will keep emerging, and the rules will keep changing. In the long run, this is a good thing—each advance fosters better communication and greater competition. But in the meantime, it’s imperative that we monitor new tools as they emerge, stay abreast of changes in user behavior and expectations, and adapt our own practices to stay both current and compliant. It’s a tall order to be sure, but vital nonetheless.

*Image courtesy of  samuiblue - FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What All Financial Institutions Should Do on Social: Q&A with Sprinklr CEO

Reports claim that financial institutions are struggling on social. But why? Many brands in other industries have found creative ways to use social media to solve customer service woes, create deeper touch-points with users and keep members apprised of important information. To gain more insight on ways banks and credit unions can ramp up their social cred, we recently spoke with Ragy Thomas, founder and CEO of Sprinklr, a social relationship infrastructure company. Ragy shares his insight with us on what FIs are doing wrong, how they fix some of their biggest problems and banks and credit unions to look up to.

Ragy Thomas Sprinklr CEO

Banking.com: According to CEB TowerGroup, 65% of banks have plans to replace or adopt social networking management technology. Why do you think there is such a need to change services or adopt new ones?

Previous generations of social management technologies and solutions were designed to achieve single-issue “point” solutions, fulfilling one or two social needs such as social publishing or social analytics.

Unfortunately, their inability to work together, or solve for the many other needs mature social management requires (e.g., social engagement, compliance, workflow, listening, governance, etc.) now renders point solutions insufficient.

As in the case of other cross-department infrastructures such as CRM or knowledge management, brands need a true social infrastructure. Financial institutions are realizing they need a single, interconnected infrastructure to effectively manage conversations, campaigns, content and community at scale. They need to be able to collaborate as a team to create a unified customer experience across all channels.

What do you think the biggest challenges are for financial institutions on social?

Compliance, security and privacy are still big challenges for financial institutions when it comes to social.  To go into more depth though, people now expect every brand to know who they are, regardless of which “division” within the brand they connect with. This paradigm is particularly stressful for financial institutions, perhaps more than any other industry, who typically suffer from “business inertia” — internal departmental, divisional, and locational business groups that typically don’t work together smoothly.

Inter-departmental friction flies in the face of arguably the sharpest disruption social has created — the expectation among consumers for a “unified experience.” Regardless of whether they are talking to a teller at the branch, on the phone with customer service, or tweeting out their frustrations, people want to be recognized and cared for as individuals in a personal manner. This comes into play especially when it comes to the extreme sensitivities associated with financial matters. When internal systems are not aligned and don’t “talk” to each other, and internal divisions are not encouraged or rewarded for collaboration to meet customer expectations, customer satisfaction is likely a difficult goal to achieve.

To truly support the “omni channel customer and journey,” banks have to collaborate across teams, departments and divisions. They need to create new processes, and define “ownership” across the breadth and depth of a person’s entire brand journey. This is unfamiliar territory for most banks, with lots of land mines along the way. Given that the volume and pace of social conversations is only likely to increase in the future, the pressure to quickly put together a solution is acute.

Social can be a powerful lever for nurturing unified relationships and generating long-term, meaningful engagement. Every meaningful social conversation can be nurtured into a real relationship that can, over time, become a direct revenue opportunity, positive word-of-mouth, or direct referral. Used effectively, social can become a cost-effective lead generation and activation channel for banks. To start, banks need to build a contextually unified profile for every prospect and customer, the foundation of which is a comprehensive conversation history — combining interactions from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, etc. With these individual histories, banks will know exactly what has been discussed with each prospect or customer, and will have clear indicators for how to nurture relationships through social interaction.

What would you suggest as the best tactic for financial institutions when responding to negative banking experiences online?

Financial institutions need to be able to admit when something has been handled poorly and rectify it immediately. Additionally, banks must be empathetic and be willing to listen to and trust their customers. As an industry that previously championed process-based decision making, this is a radical change.

If financial institutions were to change one thing today about how they use social networks, what would it be?

Create a cross business unit team that can be an advocate for optimizing client experience across channels, teams, departments, divisions and locations. This can be headed by the chief client experience (social) officer who can champion the transformation to being a social business.

Is there an example or a few examples of banks and credit unions that are really nailing it on social?

Navy Federal Credit Union provides a great example of a financial services company that has employed a mature, holistic approach to social engagement. They intently listen to their social communities, and know which customers spend more and more time on social. As a result, NFCU today provides 24/7 customer service and have an SLA response time of less than one hour. Since 60% of their members log on to social through mobile, they also now make sure new apps work seamlessly on any mobile device.

Another example is Citibank, which serves more than 100 million customers in 40 countries. With more than a million of those customers following their social channels, there were a lot of conversations happening around the brand and it was hard to keep track of them. Citi adopted a social relationship infrastructure approach to help them provide better customer service through social. As a result, the banking giant was able to save roughly 20% of their community manager’s time that was previously devoted to customer service issues. They are now able to optimize resources to social engagement, where they are committed to creating meaningful conversations and escalating customer issues to the right people.

What these two brands have in common is that they use social to enhance the customer experience and make their lives easier. That’s what all brands should aim to do through social.

 

Banking.com, Barlow Research and Digital Insight to Host Twitter Town Hall on November 14th

Banking.com and Barlow Research SOHO Twitter Town Hall

In conjunction with Barlow Research and Digital Insight, we will host a Twitter Town Hall on Thursday, November 14th to discuss Barlow Research’s recent study of the Small Office/Home Office (SOHO) market. The Twitter Town Hall will discuss the survey results and how they tie into current banking trends, including  financial management, payment and credit card behaviors, mobile and digital banking habits.

Barlow Research recently completed a comprehensive, multi-sponsored study that gathered the information needed to segment the SOHO market, examine their financial management, payment and credit card behaviors, measure the value of the SOHO customer, analyze product usage and explore business Internet banking and mobile device habits. Banking.com will be hosting a Twitter Town Hall to discuss the study results, how banks are currently serving consumers and answer any questions about the study.

The Twitter Town Hall is open for all our readers to join and participate in the conversation. To join us and/or learn more about the event, see below

Steps to Join:

  • Twitter Town Hall: Go to www.tweetchat.com. Log in using your Twitter ID.
  • Enter the hashtag to join the conversation: #SOHOStudy
  • You can also follow the hashtag (#SOHOStudy) using Twitter applications such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck 

Details:

  • Date: Thursday, November 14th
  • Time: 10:00 am PST/1:00 pm EST
  • Hosted by: Banking.com Staff (@bankingdotcom), Joel Mueller, Research Analyst, Barlow Research (@BankingResearch), John Barlow, President, Barlow Research (@JohnRBarlow) and Digital Insight (@Digital_Insight)
  • RSVP/Add to your Calendar: You can register for the event via Eventbrite and add a reminder to your calendar. See Eventbrite link here

Additionally, if you are interested in submitting a question prior to the Twitter Town Hall, please DM us on Twitter.

We hope to “Tweet” with you on November 14th!

For more on the study, visit our earlier posts on the topic.

 

Creative Social Media Solutions for Banks

Most banks and financial institutions have a Twitter feed and a Facebook page, but not every bank is employing those social media options in the most effective way. Customers won’t pay attention to a Twitter feed just because “it’s there,” and they won’t befriend a Facebook page simply because an advertisement compels them to do so. Even a staid business like a bank needs some creativity in the realm of social media.

Here are some tips to make social media work for your financial institution.

1. Use Social Media for Research

Social media is not a one-way street, and banks can learn from what their customers say to and about the financial institution on Facebook pages. 1st Mariner Bank, a small bank in Baltimore, Maryland, decided that it would use social media to query its customers about bank features and needs.

Instead of conducting sessions with focus groups, 1st Mariner asked the entire internet what it could do better. Through questions posted on social media pages, the bank was able to determine that it needed to provide a better banking experience to teenagers and parents.

2. Expand Customer Service Options

Social media is all about the engagement and responsiveness of the bank with its customers, and the immediacy of social media like Twitter offers customers the satisfaction of quick answers to problems.

Although the information shared on social media by a bank must be controlled in such a way to ensure security and privacy, the medium remains a reliable option for communicating with customers about their problems. Bank of America recently set up an active Twitter account that took some time to develop, but which eventually turned into a valuable outlet for customer service queries. Other merchant and review sites are also using Twitter as the go-to source for customer interaction.

3. Partner with a Popular Entity

United Kingdom-based Barclays Bank took note of the popularity of football (that’s soccer to Americans) in the country and decided to buy into title sponsorship of the country’s Premier League. Out of this sponsorship came an incredibly popular Twitter feed where the bank started to offer timely updates on what was happening with the professional football league.The feed swiftly gained over a hundred thousand followers, and Barclays was able to fortify brand recognition through Twitter. Each time a fan would see a Twitter update on the football feed from Barclays, he would see the Barclays Bank logo.

There is no doubt that social media propels advertising today, but it may also help a bank to improve customer service and create personalized relationships with its depositors and customers. Today’s customers are on the internet, and it is essential for banks to be inventive and resourceful with their social media campaigns.

A bank shouldn’t see social media as a simple advertising machine but rather a conduit for the exchange of ideas with customers.

Tanner M is a web specialist and entrepreneur and runs Multiple Streams, a site about helping people with their personal finances. Tanner also writes for TopTenReviews.com.

Infographic: Top National Banks on Social Media

The financial services sector may have been slower to adopt social media, but in the past few years, many of the top banks have not only embraced social, but amassed a large following. ViralHeat compiled data on large national banks using social media to see who has the strongest social presence. The breakdown is highlighted in the infographic below.

Top National Banks on Social Media

by Viralheat.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

 

Getting Started with Twitter: Tips & Tricks

AllTwitter.com, a blog run by Mediabistro, is running a ten-part series on getting started with Twitter. If your financial institution has recently started a Twitter handle, or you are planning on starting one in the near future, these lessons and tips are helpful resources to “get Twitter.” Below are links to the first seven parts of the series; we will update the list as they add the remaining three.

  1. The Newcomers Guide To Twitter Part 1: Getting Started
  2. The Newcomers Guide to Twitter Part 2: Choosing The Right Username
  3. The Newcomers Guide to Twitter Part 3: Setting Up Your Profile
  4. The Newcomers Guide to Twitter Part 4: Finding Cool People, Brands and Accounts to Follow
  5. The Newcomers Guide to Twitter Part 5: How To Get More Followers
  6. The Newcomers Guide to Twitter Part 6: How To Write Great Tweets
  7. The Newcomers Guide to Twitter Part 7: Twitter Etiquette

And, here is an infographic with tips on how to get more followers on Twitter.