Banking, financial services and insurance brands have expressed an inclination towards social media late in the day after being apprehensive of its significance. However, they have coped very well and ensured a tight grip on social platforms. This shift in the mindset among brands with regards to social media has bought in a sense of camaraderie between BSFI brands and socially driven virtual institutions.
In India, apart from crunching numbers, there are a lot of other benefits that social media has on offer. One of the major benefits includes customer support on these public platforms. There are many advantages to offering customer support publicly, if executed efficiently. I have picked a few brands within this sector to study their customer support strategies.
These include ICICI, Axis, HDFC, Kotak, SBI, IDBI, Federal and Yes bank among banks and ING Vysya, Bajaj Alliance and Birla Sunlife Insurance among Insurance companies.
The kind of queries brands get
It is extremely disappointing to see leading banks like ICICI, Axis, Kotak, IDBI and Yes bank have not opened their wall to customer posting, and are still on a one way communication basis on a social media channel which was designed for two way communication. Overall, banks get queries related to their ATM services, banking services and customer complaints.
HDFC bank on the other hand has more queries related to banking services than complaints, and these queries are being handled very well by the brand. Replies are made very fast, customer issues are being resolved immediately, both on Facebook and Twitter. What the bank has done, is that they have included the name of the customer support employee at the end of the comment, increasing authenticity and pacifying the customer.
Federal Bank too receives a lot of queries, and not too many complaints. Though the bank replies to concerns, they miss out on certain queries as well, showing a lack of efficient customer support on social media.
The Insurance sector on the other hand, has barely begun to take baby steps on social media. Bajaj Allianz, among the three is more active than the others. Though it has not opened its page to user posting yet, it receives queries and complaints through comments.
On Twitter too, Bajaj Allianz is the only insurance brand that is active and addressing customer queries.
How often they respond and their response time
Overall, banks are ignorant towards their customers and do not respond frequently. On Facebook and Twitter, among all the banks, HDFC bank replies the fastest within an average ART (average response time) of 5 hours.
On Twitter, @ICICIBank_Care, @HDFCBank_Care, @AxisBankSupport and @SBIconnex are separate handles created by the bank to address customer queries. They respond to customer queries frequently and are more competent than the rest of the banks.
On an average, the other banks respond to customer queries within a day.
What is their first response
While ICICI does not have any outlet, customers chose comments to get rid of their frustration. Although ICICI replies to each one of them, the replies are more template based lines and are never closed. This increases distrust in the mind of other users when they read the comments.
Kotak Bank has a customer support application where users can post their complaints and queries. However, this tab does not have a single post. Users have instead complained through comments and Kotak has only one standard line to address these concerns. It replies to most comments only once, without closing the complaint or bothering to reply back.
Most other banks have standard template lines as mentioned above. It is the same with the Insurance companies as well. For instance, have a look at how Bajaj Allianz has replied to every query.
Brands must understand that customer support on Social Media should not be limited to template lines. The team should be well equipped with regard to responding to complaints and queries on the social platforms itself.
Their overall approach to customer support on social media
BSFI brands are taking cognizance of the fact that their presence on social media is important and cannot be ignored anymore. While banks have begun to take social media marketing more seriously, insurance companies are still yet to make their mark.
The banking approach to customer support looks unorganised at the moment. With standardised responses and no concrete answers to questions posted by users, banks are only executing awfully limited customer support on Facebook and Twitter.
It seems as if there is a fear amidst the banking sector towards negative feedback from users and this explains why most of them have closed their walls to user posting. However, they must understand that they will not be able to prevent negative feedback, because customers will still find ways to get their grievances across–by commenting on Facebook posts, or by tweeting. They need to equip themselves better to deal with these complaints and use it to build trust and customer loyalty.
Also, the complaints or queries are more often than not redirected to either an email address or a toll free number.
Even for simple questions, where the admin just has to post a link off the internet or answer in a Yes or No, the response is a straight request for an email.
Their average turnaround time in resolving an issue
There is no way to determine the average turnaround time these sectors require, because the issues are seldom closed by these brands. Even though ICICI, HDFC and Axis do cater to user complaints, the last response is always a promise to get back to them. It is needless to mention that most of them do not even reply.
Axis bank has a Customer Feedback system on Facebook where customers can rate the bank on its services. Unfortunately, Axis does not bother to reply to any positive or negative feedback there. Most queries are filled with customer complaints which have not been resolved by the bank. As I scrolled to view complaints that were posted earlier in the month to find the slightest trace of any reply, I could find none.
IDBI closes the complaint by encouraging email communication instead of communicating on Twitter. It took almost 10 days to close the complaint and that too was pushed off to emails.
How they can improve their customer support strategy
The Banking sector needs to immediately ramp up their customer support strategy on Facebook and Twitter. Currently, customer support within this sector is seen as assisting customer queries with a standard response and directing them to further send an email or call on a tollfree number.
- Integrate Twitter within your online banking ecosystem. You can use Twitter instead of online Live chats for banking and service related queries. You can build a customer support team that can execute live chats on Twitter.
- The customer support team should be friendly and approachable. It wouldn’t hurt if your customer support executives were made known to online users by using a name to personalize the chat. You could even have a brief discussion about them as an application on Facebook.
- Technology is core in Banking. Banks should use the latest tools for supervising superior customer relationship management online. These tools allow you to keep track of complaints, monitor them and even assess the performance of your team. Needless to mention that this increases the turnaround time of the responses. This is a very important metric to measure social media success.
- Fearing negative comments does not solve the issue. Firstly, open up your wall so users can post their queries. Secondly, complaints open up the possibility of setting things right and getting genuine feedback. Put a strategy in place to solve these issues and make your service better.
- Social Media is like instant noodles. If the right answers are not up within 2-3 minutes, customer service on social platforms is of no use. Online community managers should be well trained to respond to online users at an express speed.
Expert View by Jayanta Bhattacharjee, Marketing Manager, India, SAARC and Middle East at Aspect Software – A leading provider of fully-integrated customer interaction management, workforce optimization, and back-office solutions.
At a time when the global peers have already embraced social media by putting the contact centre at the heart of their customer experience, the Indian Banking Industry, which has shown substantial presence and growth on Social Media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, has its engagement confined to launch of new products, endorsing celebrities, likes, tweets, fan followings and their erstwhile marketing department.
With intensifying competition and lower switching costs, connected and well informed consumer banks needs to make customer experience one of the most compelling differentiators. Below are some of the must dos for banks:
- By extending your erstwhile customer contact centre into the social medium, banks cannot only drive the discipline to be able to solve customer’s issues over social sphere but also use the speed of social marketing to their advantage.
- Move away from “listening only syndrome”. Although this is an important activity, banks can’t be restricted to simply monitoring. They must also be involved with social media conversations on marketing campaigns, promotions on the social web or sometimes responding to them. However, as customers increasingly turn to social networks for customer service response interaction, it is imperative for banks to embrace social media as a vital, two-way channel that can amplify their ability to deliver a differentiated customer experience by converting an unhappy customer into a loyal customer, thereby activating a brand endorser in the process.
- The ability to integrate bank’s contact centre with CRM systems, knowledge bases and communities will give a more comprehensive view into the customer and provide contact centre agents with necessary information to provide a faster and smarter response.
- Don’t shy away from negative comments as they can actually be a great resource to identify product defects or figure out where to improve necessary processes.
- Additionally create a social media policy by empowering contact centre agents and supervisors to not only identify and track changes in sentiment but also train these spokespeople in appropriate web etiquette, response times and protocols, enabling them to answer customer requests and proactively inform social consumers of events, issues, promotions or even changes (i.e. new service number or email) when they need it through their channel of choice, minimizing repetitive requests.
Disclaimer :The views of the expert are his own views and not of the company.