In the last two days I’ve encountered two stories that couldn’t be more different. The first was about the uncaring staffers at United Airlines who lost a 10-year-old unaccompanied minor. The second was about a New Hampshire Panera Bread employee who went out of her way to make soup for a customer who was passing soon from cancer.
Over-the-top customer service stories aren’t told much in the banking industry and they certainly aren’t often told publicly. Every week I hear conversations from bankers and bank marketers about social media strategies – or more accurately put “gimmicks” – for increasing engagement – or more accurately put “likes” – and I swear I can hear the Internet weep a bit. Giving away $1 to a charity in exchange for a like isn’t exactly at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. And where does pushing this factoid out to your 233 fans fit into the grand scheme of things?
Whatever happened to engaging people in person with extreme service and kindness instead of with random questions or contests?
Think about the last time you had an extreme customer service experience in any environment? I have worked in the hotel, restaurant, and retail industries and used to pride myself on delivering consistently good experience most of the time and in looking for an extreme way to deliver when I could. From the other side of the counter, it’s not as easy as it seems but it can make an amazing difference to a customer. And, as we’ve seen, it can give someone a reason to talk about you and your brand:
If you know of any publically discussed over-the-top banking service stories, please let me know. If you don’t, think about what your retail and branch admin departments can do to assist in making moments like these – moments that people share publicly online and in person – an everyday occurrence!
Here are some of the things that I’ve been doing while I should have been blogging:
- Speaking at last week’s ABA Bank Marketing Conference. I was invited to represent the “Free Checking” side of our industry’s debate over product profitability in the new regulatory environment. Mary Beth Sullivan of Capital Performance Group (http://www.capitalperform.com/) provided the fee side of the debate. We had a great session (based on what I heard from the attendees) and this is obviously a popular and polarizing topic. My slides can be found below, but a bunch of other resources on this topic (including a 60-page in-depth look at checking product changes, marketing, and sales processes at 20 of the top banks in American) can be found at www.actonattheaba.com. It was a fantastic conference and I was very impressed by the ABA’s programming (more on that in a future post).
- Traveling out East to visit with new and prospective clients. According to my fortune cookie, this bodes well:
- Preparing for next month’s BAI Retail presentation with Jennifer Grazel (Head of Category Development – Financial Services, Healthcare and Travel at LinkedIn - http://www.linkedin.com/in/jennifergrazel). It should be a great one on how Bankers can Use LinkedIn to Generate Sales. If you will be in Chicago, let me know so we can connect in person!
- I’ll mention one other thing that’s been a barrier to blogging and that’s my last blog post! I did a part 1 of 2 on how Capital One might kill my relationship with ING. Now I’m committed to doing a part 2 but Capital One hasn’t done anything yet to my ING account except for adding the ability to write checks, which is a good thing! I have a lot of research on this post #2, but unfortunately Capital One hasn’t done anything yet.
This is Blog Post 1 of 2 on what Capital One will do to ING…enjoy.
I have five checking accounts right now at five different institutions. This is a hazard of working in the financial services industry and helping banks and CUs gain new customers. It’s also a byproduct of having shopped around for many years for a good fit in a PFI. While I have five checking accounts, several of which are used for basic transactions, my heart and my direct deposit lies with ING Direct. They are my Orange Crush, you might say!
Unfortunately I – just like my ING brethren and sistren – am afraid of what Capital One might do to my relationship. See the rampant speculation here.
My relationship with ING started six years ago when they lured me on a first date with sexy talk of 4.5% interest on a savings account. They even bought me dinner by way of a $25 account opening incentive. Since then they have repeatedly wooed me with the fact that they don’t play games – what you see is what you get – and they have grown our relationship by thinking long term.
What I mean by this is:
- They allow sub savings accounts so you can divide your money into buckets for different goals. I have mentioned this convenient feature to many bankers over the years and many seem surprised that they’ve not done this for their own customers. I’m more surprised than them when all of these bankers don’t implement this feature at any point after our conversation either.
- They didn’t try to cross sell the hell out of me the day after my first account. Nope, they allowed the experience do the talking for them and then later asked for both referrals and my additional accounts/deposits…of which I gave them both.
- They have engaged me with money-saving tips. People who know me in my real life know that I’ve never met a coupon I didn’t like. If you want to be my friend, buy me a drink. If you want to be my friend for life, buy me a drink with a BOGO (buy one, get one free) coupon. It will show me that you value our friendship now and that you want to save money to buy me drinks in the future, too.
- They have engaged me on a deeper level than just taking my money and allowing me access to it. Their “We the Savers” movement (it’s gone past marketing when people call it a movement and post emotional things on the company’s FB wall) is something I found to be interesting enough to follow at first and then later ask to be a part of…shown here by my entry into their money-saving blog contest in early 2010:
“Squirreling funds and spending on family in the Midwest (it’s a working title, folks). Right now I’m leaving voicemails for contractors in the hopes of adding some insulation to the near-non-existent walls of our house. I’m doing this because my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter woke up freezing cold after removing all clothes except her underwear last night. I’m also calling in the hopes of taking advantage of the Lincoln Nebraska Electric System’s sustainable energy program, which will provide up to $1,000 to help me pay for this. That program started today and I had set up a reminder on my calendar. The money for this added insulation will come from one of my ING savings accounts. I currently have five, or maybe six, I’m not totally sure. They are each labeled with a different name and for a different reason. This money would come out of the joint fund and go into a newly created “insulation” or maybe “keeping daughter from freezing” fund. This kind of spending makes sense to me because it will pay back in saved energy costs and also provide added comfort. Fifteen years ago, I would not have imagined dropping a grand on something you can’t see, taste, or touch (not if you don’t want to be all itchy anyway). But that was a different time, back when I was dancing to PM Dawn or some other one-hit-wonder in the basement of a fraternity. Back then I didn’t know what a thousand dollars looked like. Now, I’m constantly analyzing how I can save my next thousand dollars, where it will go, and what it would be worth at retirement. It’s actually more fun than dancing to PM Dawn, though it may not sound like it. Side note: Many of you are too young to know who PM Dawn is so imagine a large dreadlocked man in tiny sun glasses singing in a very soft but high-pitch voice to a flowing, serene techno tune. You can now see why their one hit was all they could muster. Two contractors are set to stop by the house later this week to give me estimates. In order to get the sustainable energy credit for the walls, I’ll also have to add insulation to my attic, which now needs to be rated R19 or less. I’m now wishing that the people who built my house were less than competent, at least on this one area. They certainly were drinking or asleep when they forgot the basement on this house, which is considered to be in tornado alley. I can only hope to be so lucky on the attic issue, too. If I don’t qualify for the credit, I suppose I’ll go ahead and get some insulation blown in the walls anyway. The surface temperature of my daughter’s arms this morning would certainly have warranted a concerned look from social services had they been there and monitoring that sort of thing. Over the years I’ve learned that money can create experiences, buy possessions, make you look like a big shot, allow you to buy the latest PM Dawn song from iTunes (assuming they are still tripping the light fantastic – did that comment date me?), but it can also make you feel like a good dad and husband because you’re able to keep your family a little warmer or safer. I’m looking forward to spending this bit of savings on that feeling!“
I will blame my not being chosen to blog for We the Savers by the judging panel’s obvious lack of knowledge about PM Dawn (be ignorant no more, my friends!). But, how many people out there enter your institution’s blog contest or engage you on your Facebook page? I’m going to guess it’s a hair less than the amount of people who entered to blog money-saving tips for We the Savers.
My level of engagement might not be typical of all or even the majority of the ING customers…but maybe it is:
Editors Note: for those of you who prefer rampant cussing, please excuse the bars on the text.
This is a turning point for me and ING. Sure all of the sexy talk about 4.5% interest has waned a bit since we got married – I believe I’m only earning 1.1% interest on a substantial (for me anyway) pool of money – but they love is still there. And sure Ally, Smarty Pig, and others out there might be more attractive dance partners but ING and I have history…or at least we did.
What is in store for me, the ING customer, now that someone is hoping to capitalize on my orange crush? I’ll explore that more in the next post.
If you have thoughts – or if you’re also dating ING (gasp, how dare you!) – I’d love to hear from you in the comments section. Or perhaps a R&B video response ala PM Dawn style would be better.
Last week there was an excellent article published on www.banktech.com called “Banks Mining Social Networks with Analytics Tools.” In addition to many thought-provoking insights, the article contained this quote:
“Dan Marks, chief marketing officer at First Tennessee in Memphis, views social media as a big cocktail party. You want to go and listen, find out what people are saying, maybe jump in with a comment or a witty quip once in a while — but you don’t get to control the conversation or pitch products, he says.”
Dan makes a great analogy: social media is very much like a cocktail party. Some parties are more fun than others but we all know that only a few party goers really make the party worthwhile. The majority of guests are fillers (much like the random cast of characters that populate my dreams at night), with a small number of drunken idiots and braggarts. I’m afraid that many banks out there are the drunken idiots at the cocktail party that is social media.
Allow me to explain. Below are five recent tweets I pulled from a Twitter List of community banks. I did tweak the tweets – say that five times real fast – to protect the identity of these drunken bankers but the content is unchanged.
Bank Tweet #1: “Today is Earth Day! Celebrate by going paperless at Bank X and signing up for E-Statements! Link.”
Cocktail Party Translation: “Today is Earth Day! Let’s celebrate by weeding my lawn. Oh, yeah, sorry about the non sequitur everyone…”
Why I say this: Celebrating Earth Day by signing up for estatements isn’t something new to our industry, as a matter of fact, I’d be surprised if anyone in our industry didn’t mention estatements when talking about the earth or trees or green things…they go hand in hand round here. BUT…customers and prospects aren’t turning to twitter to be nudged into good stewardship, especially not when it is cost savings for the bank disguised as good stewardship.
Practical advice: Earth day is good, but let’s provide 8 tips to celebrate, number 4 of which could be estatements.
Bank Tweet #2: “Which #savings account is right for you? Link. #finance #money #budget. “
Note: Link went to blog post about finding the right Bank X savings account.
Cocktail Party Translation: “What is wrong with the women at this party? I’m tossing out tons of signals that I’m available but nothing. #eligiblebachelor!”
Why I say this: Hashtags are useful when trying to draw the attention of fellow event attendees (#finovate) or fellow industry peeps (#socialmedia). When you toss 4 similar hashtags into a tweet about your products, you quite simply aren’t sure about the use of hashtags.
Practical advice: Figure out how to use hashtags.
Bank Tweet #3: “BankX Welcomes Shareholders to town! The BankX Annual Shareholders Meeting is today at the Douglas Theatre.”
Cocktail Party Translation: “My rich parents are coming to visit next weekend. We will be drinking from cups made of gold. Try to keep your manure carts off our lawn, peasants!”
Why I say this: Only shareholders care about shareholder meetings and not many of them at that. And how many of them are on twitter? And why draw attention to this meeting since the bank’s growth rate was negative for the first time in 5 years?
Practical advice: Welcome your shareholders at the welcoming reception…preferably not a virtual one on Twitter.
Bank Tweet #4: “We are now on the map! Go to our homepage and click the map to find the Bank X office nearest you.”
Cocktail Party Translation: “I think I’m drunk. Where’d you go? Oh wait, I closed my eyes.”
Why I say this: This tweet may have actually been from a drunk person. Perhaps written late at night and then set up for a midday post. Otherwise there is no explanation as to why this would ever need to be tweeted.
Practical advice: Stop drinking. Stop tweeting. Perhaps, both?
Bank Tweet #5: “TRIVIA: What percentage of the popular vote did Abraham Lincoln get in the election of 1860?”
Cocktail Party Translation: “I know it’s off topic, but how much change do you think I’m carrying in my pockets right now? There will be no prize if you guess correctly, only the satisfaction of knowing.”
Why I say this: There were a total of seven “trivia” tweets in the same day from this bank. None related. None with a prize. None with a point you might say.
Practical advice: The pursuit of trivia is a board game, not a social media strategy.
This blog post is not meant to be snarky, simply an observation that despite the large volume of resources about social media for FIs– some random examples here, here, and here – many institutions deem it necessary to forge onward without a plan or pleasant cocktail party personality.
Here is my advice. Think about what kind of person lights up a party? I would imagine it’s an engaging storyteller type who is smart, funny, and rides the fine line between having a good time and drunken tweeting. Be that engaging person. Be informed and ready with a great and relevant story for your party guests. Be that kind of bank on Twitter and Facebook.
Or, if that’s too much to shoot for, simply focus on making sure you’re not “that guy.” “That guy” is the one they talk about in shushed tones after the party…the one who now has only one eyebrow because the other one was shaved off by another drunken idiot.
What’s your advice for helping get these banks on the wagon?