Last week I was sat with an executive from a large financial services company who said that they were taking a conservative, risk averse approach to social media due to the adverse impact of getting it wrong. They were particularly concerned about reputational risk and brand damage. The issue at play is customers heading off to the Facebook site to complain and slag off the company, which would in turn impact all the other customers that subsequently arrived and saw the commentary.
It’s certainly a challenge but not one that’s solved by shutting down the site and not turning up for the conversation. This is because the conversation between the customer and the brand has now been completely turned on it’s head. It’s no longer a monologue, driven by the brand agency with customers viewed as a target. Today’s world is a dialogue between brands and their customers that occurs on social media. Those that engage in dialogue with courage, transparency and honesty are winning. I thought we all got this, but apparently not, hence the post.
On a recent trip around Asia, the handle of my new suitcase broke. A quick Facebook search found the manufacturer who replied within a couple of days; not bad timing but certainly a good response. Once up, alongside other queries, other customers can see how they handle claims, which is an important part of the decision making when selecting products.
This does demonstrate that you do need someone and probably a dedicated team watching, responding and championing social media within the organisation. If you are serious about this then they are also going to need the gravitas and authority to stay the course and take the organisation on the journey. It’s certainly not a job for a graduate or someone that is “good at Facebook”! The engagement will almost certainly identify opportunities for improved processes and potentially customer centricity culture and that’s going to need authority and capability to see through.
In a customer centric organisation there is the potential for a lot of gold in social media. We can hear what customers want in products and services which can be valuable for building the roadmap. During the design process customers can be brought in to give their views and engaged in the testing process. Those that are building products and services with a Human Centred Design approach will really get this.
The blueprint for Financial Services companies begins with ensuring that the core channels are enabled, monitored and switched on for engagement: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. Put the team in place, align their objectives strategically and give them the budget, tools and analytics to measure and manage sentiment and then correlate that to ROI. At Moroku we regard that as Social 101: Using social media to engage customers.
Once that’s done you can begin to move to Social 201. This is where we begin to embed Maslow’s hierarchy of need into the way we build and design digital core services, such that social and social values, as opposed to just social media, is inherent in the way we centre the offering and use social media as a framework to enable that. At Moroku we call that Banking in the Crowd. This is where Social is done within the banking application, instead of doing banking in the social media platform and by doing so completely turning the current model of social on its head.