How Can Banks Use Social Media to Improve Customer Service?

customer-serviceWhat does customer service mean to you? Personally when I think of customer service, I can’t help but have my thoughts be overshadowed by frustrating experiences, automated call services and plenty of dead ends. If you provide any product or service, no matter what it may be, you have to be 100% dedicated to assist your customers when something goes wrong. You can’t simply provide a service and then turn a cold shoulder on your customers when something goes wrong. Customer service is a HUGE factor in how your brand is viewed and when your customers need help with your products or services, they should be able to count on you to provide them the information that will help them, which in turn will increase their loyalty to you in the long run. You may be reading this now and thinking that the connotations attached to a brand’s customer service is something that is hard to change. However, I was recently involved in a scenario with a certain internet service provider that left me utterly amazed.

No matter who you’ve used in the past for your internet service provider (ISP), I’d be willing to bet that you can probably recall countless times when you were unhappy with the level of commitment or customer service from these companies. However, one single series of events recently occurred that changed my whole perspective on how you can restore trust and make your customers happy by simply providing them what they want…or at least the information that can help.

In my case, the company I was dealing with was Comcast, whom I might add I’ve never been a huge fan of due to their countless mishaps I’ve dealt with as a Comcast residential customer. I think it’s fair to say that it wasn’t a shock when I found the simple act of finding out what should be a simple answer (is service available at our current business address), turned into a maze of calls and lack of call backs. All I wanted to know was if our company could get service, and if not when it would “tentatively” be available. Shouldn’t be so hard to obtain, right?

I knew I would get my answer eventually by calling persistently, but surprisingly a single “tweet” into the twittersphere about how frustrating the process was, resulted in a level of customer service I couldn’t even fathom. Less than 2 minutes after I sent my message out on twitter, @ComcastBill responded via twitter with an email address for me to send my concerns to. I also received a follow-up from Bill a few minutes later informing me that they are working on improving response time even more in the future.

At the time, I just thought my frustrations would be filtered on to someone who would “look into” the issue more. But not this time, within the next 3 hours I received calls from 5 Comcast executives…ranging from corporate level to technicians. Not only did they listen and respond diligently to my concerns but they also personally came to our company and met with me the following Monday. They informed that service would be available within the month and the upgrade would actually end up saving our company money…all from one single 140 char message I sent out on twitter.

Rather than elaborating more on the circumstances of this scenario, think how this level of customer service could be applied to your financial institution. Many banks and credit unions have begun to embrace the emergence into the social media realm and many are doing so quite well while others are still hesitant to engage. Using social media for promotions and the latest news about new products and rates is definitely a great start, but how can social media platforms help your bank improve customer service, retain more customer and  provide your customers with the information they need, when they need it? A recent article from Forbes about how banks are lagging when it comes to social media, stated that “At the very least you should be paying attention, and at some point you need to figure out how to respond.”

I simply wanted to know if our company was eligible for Comcast’s internet service and within just a couple of business days, I had gained commendable respect from their efforts, learned everything I wasn’t able to know in the months prior, and as a result, I’m actually switching to Comcast as our internet provider because of the simple fact that they were able to provide this information and customer service. Had it not been for @ComcastBill, Comcast could have very well lost out on a business customer that was willing to pay for their services. This is a perfect example of how problems can help build your brand.

As we’ve talked about time and time again, customers will come to you when you give them the answers they need and not only that, they will continue to see you as a resource for financial information if you can readily provide it to them. If you are there for them to give them the advice they need to make important financial decisions, this will be something that they’ll continue to remember. You might even be able to steer them directly to the individual at your institution who can follow-up with them right away. In the Forbes article, Jim Cramer was quoted saying “Financial Advisors who use social media for business make more money, have more clients and have larger books of business.”

Customer service is just one of the many facets that embody individual companies and institutions, but it is not one that should be taken lightly. As a financial institution, striving for the highest customer satisfaction is probably already a major priority, but think of the ways that you can enhance you existing practices using social media. Think of how you can engage more with your customers, think of the avenues that social networking can lend to your practices and please share any success stories that you may already have from adding social media as a marketing expansion.