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?