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Do you follow your bank?

By David McMillin · Bankrate.com
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Posted: 10 am ET

Are banks making savings and checking accounts synonymous with Twitter and Facebook profiles? If some members of the financial industry get their way, the social media revolution may change the way you talk to your bank.

"American Banker and Bank Technology News" highlighted this trend with the inclusion of Citi's SVP of social media, Frank Eliason, in "The Innovators 2011." The article explores Eliason's recent work at Citi, which includes a YouTube channel, a Facebook page and a Twitter handle that provides customer service assistance from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday.

I'm not sure if watching YouTube clips of the financial giant's Annual Meeting of Shareholders will appeal to many account holders, but Citi is not alone in its efforts. Many other big banks use social media to answer customer requests. TD Bank and Bank of America have Twitter feeds that offer assistance to followers.

In an era marked by rising fees for checking and savings accounts, becoming online "friends" with customers seems like a good public relations move for banks. Providing another outlet for answering questions and assisting frustrated customers could seemingly establish a greater degree of transparency.

However, I'm curious to see how effective these channels will be in improving the actual customer experience. They could just as easily be manipulated to overwhelm account holders with status updates about credit card offers and retweets of other promotions.

I've browsed a few bank Twitter feeds and mainly see direct message apologies to frustrated account holders. While this may demonstrate one extra step for customer service, I don't know how far 140 characters will go in terms of truly enhancing customer satisfaction.

Have you noticed your bank getting social? If so, how do you feel about its use of Twitter, Facebook and other interactive tools? Can it better meet your needs, or is it simply presenting a better image without the support to back it up?

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1 Comment
Eric Lindeen
October 07, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Banks are increasingly using social media to address the needs and concerns of customers. This is effective, and necessary, given the changes in the market. Consumers that once complained to a few friends now expose their frustrations to hundreds, and potentially millions of consumers. As consumers increasingly adopt mobile technology, the need for banks to be part of the conversation will only increase.

Your real question seemed to be whether banks could become part of the consumer's community, though likes, follows, and links. Unless banks become a much more integrated and valued part of consumers lives, it will be hard to break through that barrier. There is a wide gap between "my bank doesn't suck" and becoming a brand evangelist. Using social media to quickly and effectively address frustrations is an important first step.