Get the Conversation Flowing!

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Business is where the customer is. Or at least, it should be. So, when you see that your customers are hooked to social media, you just have to follow suit. Your customers are there already and interacting with their chosen brands like never before. Your competition too is working hard towards making their mark in this space. If this is not reason enough for you to accelerate your social media journey, what is? A Facebook profile or an occasional ‘Tweet’ does not suffice if you want to unlock the potential of social technologies. You need to fully exploit the possibilities of this exciting new channel to connect with your customers, employees and other stakeholders.

What is in it for you?

While social media is not new or unfamiliar, social media in banking is still catching up. The stringent regulatory environment and difficulty in quantifying the ROI of social media engagements often dampen the pace of social media efforts. Add to it the risk of identity theft and fraud over these platforms and you have enough and more to worry about. The value you derive from personal interactions with your customers via social channels however far outweighs these risks. Cost-effective marketing, impactful communication and insights into customer needs, behaviors and sentiments-these are some of the many benefits of a sound social media strategy.

Your employees also benefit from these initiatives. Social technologies promote workforce collaboration and productivity. Best practices, ideas, and suggestions from one part of the organization can be shared across teams and locations and emulated with ease. They also help retain experience and knowledge possessed by employees who leave the organization. Improved customer service, faster complaint resolution, greater innovation, and higher levels of engagement are some of the obvious returns.

Sounds Utopian? Many banks are doing this and much more. So the question you should be asking is how best to employ social media to achieve your business objectives.

The Way Forward

So where exactly are you on the social media maturity scale? And how do you get to a point where you can wield social technologies to your advantage? From our experience, we find that banks are typically at one of the following four levels of social media maturity:

  1. Basic Sentiment Tracking:  They have basic presence in leading platforms, which they use to track the pulse of customers and communicate important messages to them.
  2. Customer Servicing: They actively engage with their customers, encouraging them to share feedback, complaints, reviews and more. These inputs are used to shape their responses.
  3. Social Media as an Acquisition Channel: Social media is an integral element of their multi-channel strategy and treated on par with other marketing channels. This implies well-defined sales and marketing plans tied to concrete targets.
  4. Social Media-Driven Product and Service Innovation: Social media is among their most important marketing and communication channels, and helps them achieve what they cannot through other means. For instance, reaching out to markets where they have no physical presence.

So, what does it take to get there? Understanding what your customers, prospects and competitors are discussing online is an essential first step in the process. You also need to make sure that your present a single, consistent image of your brand to the market. The next step would be to outline business objectives to be met through this channel and pursue them with well-defined plans. Clear governance and mature processes around outward-facing communication on social media are a must. Social media teams should ideally include members from functions like IT, legal and compliance to address technical and compliance mandates. Last, but not the least, support from a leadership team that is social media savvy can go a long way in adding momentum to your efforts.  Sounds daunting? With the right partner to guide you, it need not be.

Wondering when you can start reaping the fruits of your labor? “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet” – so said Aristotle. This definitely holds for your social media journey. Consistent and sustained efforts are needed to make your mark here. But once you get there, the possibilities are endless. How about gamification to educate your customers about new products and services, instead of resorting to more expensive marketing tools such as advertising? Or running a Facebook poll to decide where to locate your next ATM or branch? You can even build new business models driven entirely by social media platforms. Now that’s enough reason for you to get the ‘conversation’ flowing!

Tags-   Banks Social media Social Technologies