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Banks Are Boring on Social Media

A report from Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group polled consumers on their experience with financial institutions on social media.

A majority of consumers believe that banks' use of social media is ineffective, according to findings from a poll released today by Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group.

The firm polled 1,002 U.S. consumers online in an attempt to to uncover the important drivers for financial institutions to be successful in managing customer complaints and social media preparedness. Fifty-two percent of those who responded said they believe the use of social media by banks is ineffective, while 87 percent reported banks are "annoying, boring or unhelpful" on social media.

This is largely due to the messaging many banks present on social media channels, explains Dr. Patricia Sahm, CG’s Customer Experience and Channels practice lead.

Social media is about transparency, and if a bank's response to a customer's inquiry on social media isn't transparent or relevant it will come off as sounding unhelpful, she says. "Banks need to make their customers feel like they've resolved whatever problem there is and not give an ambiguous answer," Sahm notes.

As an example of what not to do on social media, Sahm cites one customer's story of sending a tweet at a bank alerting them that their mobile banking app was down, and the bank simply responded to the customer telling them to call an 800 number with no further information. That then led to the customer to complain about the bank on Twitter.

Even if a bank can't solve a problem immediately on social media, it should still give the customer as much information as possible and update them on when it will be solved. Banks that do rate highly on social media generally follow a model Sahm describes thusly: "They have a centralized social media team that can quickly reach out to the various subject matter experts at the bank to help answer customer questions quickly. Enabling your social media team to have really good, and quick, access to all the expertise in the bank, and access to data that sits in various stores across the enterprise, helps them answer customer questions or complaints much better."

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Sahm acknowledges that banks do face an inherent disadvantage on social media compared to other industries, namely that "financial services products may not be the most exciting thing people are thinking about every day." But that still does not absolve them of doing social media well, since it is often the channel customers use most to lodge complaints. According to the survey, one in three consumers would use social media to complain, with 54 percent saying Facebook would be the channel they would do so on. That was followed by Twitter at 18 percent, LinkedIn at 12 percent and blogs at 10 percent.

Sahm says that the responses to the survey were generally the same across age and demographic lines, meaning its not just one subset of customers banks have to worry about on social media.

Ultimately, says Sahm, regardless of the channel it is imperative for banks to resolve problems as quickly as they can for their customers.

"The minute it seems like you're not resolving the problem, it can very rapidly deteriorate the relationship," she adds.

[Related Content: How Banks Can Stay On Top of Customer Expectations]

Bryan Yurcan is associate editor for Bank Systems and Technology. He has worked in various editorial capacities for newspapers and magazines for the past 8 years. After beginning his career as a municipal and courts reporter for daily newspapers in upstate New York, Bryan has ... View Full Bio

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