“Banks get in trouble for one reason: They make bad loans.”

That’s according to Carl Webb, co-managing partner at the Ford Financial Fund. The statement holds some truth, but with all due respect to Webb, I’m going to challenge it.

Banks can get in trouble for another reason: Failing to engage customers on social media.

Ten years ago, if a customer needed assistance with her bank account, she’d have to either go to her nearest branch or call a customer service line and wait for a representative. Today, she can simply open a social media app and send a message – making this process easier and more efficient than ever before.

Financial services companies just have to be ready on the other side on the screen. Otherwise, they leave customers in the dark and money on the proverbial table.

With that in mind, here are steps financial marketers can take to better engage customers on social media.

Understand the importance of social media in finance

Social media holds countless opportunities for finance brands to grow their audiences and build loyal relationships. Marketers can use digital channels to deliver personalised messages and real-time care. They can also use them to reach customers where they’re already active, comfortable, and ready to converse.

According to the U.S. Federal Reserve, over half of US adults with a smartphone and 67% of Millennials use mobile banking. Sixty per cent of UK residents use mobile banking as well – double the amount from 10 years ago. This digital dependence has caused thousands of banks to close and prompted finance companies to turn their attention to online channels.

Santander UK offers a helpful example of a company putting the customer first via social media. The bank created a holistic view of 14 million customers across the social channels they prefer, equipping the company to deliver the right messages to the right people at the right time. The effort was a big success, generating more than 1.5 million social engagements in one year.

Navigate compliance and regulatory challenges

Social media is not without its challenges – especially for finance brands handling personal and sensitive information. The volume of approval paths and red tape makes responding to customers in real-time a daunting task.

“There are certain challenges you face when you take on social as a bank, and one of these is to deal with compliance and regulatory issues,” said Keith Moor – CMO of Santander UK – in a recent case study. “Organisations like ours have grown up developing processes and procedures that deal very well with static mechanisms. Social, however, is a very dynamic and unpredictable mechanism.”

Santander UK overcame these obstacles by educating senior executives on the value of social media and outlining detailed approval workflows. This way, each team had the necessary resources to address any unexpected issues before they arose.

Find the most relevant platforms for your industry

It’s tempting to tackle every available social platform at once. But you may only end up stretching your brand too thin and delivering low-quality messages. That’s why it’s important to identify the platforms that make most sense for your business and customers.

Santander UK, for example, had more than 20 social networks to choose from. But Moor and his team knew that once they built an audience on each channel, they’d have to commit to sustaining relationships with those customers. So instead of creating 20 decent strategies, they launched a few extremely strong strategy across networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Each of these platforms also offers tools for customer care. Twitter’s DM Prompt feature helps customers transition from a private conversation into a Direct Message with just a click. LinkedIn’s Sponsored InMail lets marketers send personalised messages to customers at scale. And Facebook Messenger invites brands to revolutionise customer service by building their own chatbots.

Create a bridge between customer care and marketing

Too many finance organisations create silos between their marketing and customer care departments. This means that marketers and customer care reps can’t develop a holistic view of each consumer, and they can’t deliver the most personalised and efficient service possible.

That’s why it’s crucial to break down the barriers between these two functions. As each team learns more about their customers, they can share insights and launch more effective strategies.

At Santander UK, the brand has united marketing and customer care teams. Customer care was able to manage day-to-day queries that come through social media, handling up to 3,000 inbound messages per week. And marketing was with them every step of the way.

They even looped in other teams – such as compliance – that aren’t typically customer-facing. Moor and his team recognised that the whole organisation is responsible for delivering customer experience, and that by joining teams, it can offer more humanised and customised messaging.

Build deeper customer relationships

Financial services companies have an unprecedented opportunity to engage customers across platforms and build deeper relationships. They just have to be willing to navigate the opportunities and challenges of social media.

By choosing the right platforms, getting executives on board, and breaking down silos between departments, finance brands can grow their audiences and bank on delivering truly superior experiences to their customers.

Moor certainly understands the possibilities. “At a time of unprecedented customer control, we can hear ours with greater clarity,” he says. “Our teams can solve customer issues quickly and efficiently. And with the insights we draw from customer interactions, we’re able to provide the most relevant possible content day in and day out.”

 

By Carlos Dominguez, president of Sprinklr


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