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It’s not social to ignore your customers

May 4, 2011

Last month the new J.D. Power and Associates Report (Full report here: http://prn.to/dZQ08U) came out and reported that customer satisfaction at retail banks is up from 2010.  This was despite a decline in satisfaction with fees…and a small note about banks unresponsiveness to complaints that were delivered via social media. You might have missed it so here it is again:

“One in eight customers who indicate they use social media say that they have used it to contact their bank for service-related issues. However, only 20 percent of these customers report receiving a response from their bank.”

I found this tidbit very interesting because of the enormous amount of banks and CUs still rushing into social media.  I’m not sure what your institution’s initial social media checklist looks like but please let’s not forget to add “will have plan in place to respond to our customers complaints” to the list.

Social media is an engagement channel and I can think of few less engaging things than being ignored.  If you have opened up a channel of communication, then you are responsible for responding.  The worse part about this 20 percent figure is that social media is thought of as an instant form of communication, which means we not only expect a response but we expect it immediately.   I have posted on a restaurant’s Facebook wall asking for a reservation minutes before leaving the house and received a response before leaving the driveway.  Is your institution monitoring and replying in real time like a small 30 table restaurant in Nebraska?  For you will be judged in relation to all other businesses online.

Prior to social media, complaints were issued via mail, phone, or in person.  At least with mail there was a lag time and multiple steps required between complaint and response.  At least then one might have a scapegoat to blame for a response not being received.  You do not have this with social media.

With social media, if your response isn’t instant, you’re behind.  If you’re response isn’t ever sent, you need to move your page to Myspace where nobody will ever find it.

Our industry has enough challenges – well documented by Jeffry Pilcher’s recent post “The Formula For Winning and Losing Bank Customers” @ http://bit.ly/kjDFUU – so let’s just be sure that we’re not hurting ourselves in our attempt to engage online.  Better yet, let’s be ready to respond in real time via this new channel of preference.  There is no place to go but up from 20%…I hope.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 4, 2011 11:42 am

    Mark

    you are absolutely right. But this is the effect, when banks opened an twitter account or a facebook page and thought “that is it”. Social Media needs to be managed and is not just a matter of being present.

    There is still a long way to go…

    Kind regards from Germany (regarding social media still a diaspora)

    Hansjörg

  2. May 4, 2011 11:47 am

    It is disappointing to see how many institutions have social media presences without actually being present. One would hope the setup of social media profiles indicates an understanding of its importance, implying it’s also understood how detrimental it can be if not used well or at all.

    I think, however, it’s dangerous to say across the board that you’re behind if you’re not responding immediately. An important component to “plan in place to respond to customer complaints” not just how but when. Every bank has to ask itself: Do we have the manpower to respond 24/7? If not, when are we online? How do we communicate that to customers? How do we flag the most urgent responses needed and how will we get them to the right person to answer? What are considered “after hours” and how do we handle emergencies that come up during that time?

    Customers do expect responses immediately, and they also expect an authentic response from a real person. This isn’t always reasonable – your example of a restaurant on Facebook is something I’ve experienced myself, but would we expect the same immediate response if we reached out at 7am instead of 6pm, given the general understanding of what times restaurants operate? I don’t believe in “banker’s hours” in social media, but I’d be in a rubber room right now if I responded immediately to each comment or tweet in real time. Your advice to have a plan is the simple yet surprisingly often ignored key to success in social media.

    • May 4, 2011 1:37 pm

      Jennifer – great points! Yes, we don’t want to drive the banker and CU social media peeps out there to drinking by requiring them to be tethered to their dashboards. But, we do want to stress the fact that perception is reality for those who take the time to respond to their institution via social media. They may not literally require a response within minutes, but their perception of how soon that comment is received by the institution is instant so the institution better have a great response when they do come back with a reply…hopefully sometime between soon and unsober. ;) z

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