Customers “shun” social media for financial service contact

By Chris Lee

While complaints against brands on social networks are up by a fifth, the same cannot be said of financial services (FS) organisations, according to recent research. The study by customer experience consultants [24]7 found that UK consumers are not convinced that social media is the right medium over which to consult their FS provider.

More than half (55 per cent) would rather resolve issues with their FS provider in private rather than complain about bad customer service via social media, [24/7] found. The newly-formed Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) intends to monitor what financial institutions say over social networks.

Freedom to choose

Whether it is the nature of the conversation or the effectiveness of social media to resolve issues, it is clear that UK consumers would much rather interact with banks and other FS providers in private, argues Mike Hughes, European managing director at [24]7. “Since the phone continues to be an important channel and consumers are using smart phones in ever-increasing numbers, FS organisations need to offer solutions that let consumers use their voice and the mobile web at the same time,” he said.

In addition, the research revealed that only two per cent of people use their bespoke FS provider’s mobile apps for customer service, despite a number of FS providers offering this as an option. 12 per cent of respondents said that their FS providers do not allow them to interact with the provider using enough different channels. A further 12 per cent admitted they would consider switching financial service provider to one that offered omni-channel customer service.

Get involved in the conversation

The most annoying element of FS customer service amongst 18 to 55 year olds is having to start afresh each point of contact, with FS firms forgetting previous conversations and customer history. Approximately half of all respondents admitted to getting frustrated when financial service providers do not know who they are or why they are engaging customer service, despite having identified themselves and their issue previously via another channel.

45 per cent of consumers expect FS providers to know what they want based on previous contact. Hughes believes that customers have so far mostly used social media as a place to complain and not to get issues resolved. “Consumers only turn to social media because other customer service channels have failed them, they don’t want to have these conversations in public, especially with a financial services provider,” he concluded.

“Companies need to tap the real value of social media for customer service and sales. What consumers want to do with social media is to explore, learn, share, and provide. They want to explore what friends are doing, learn about new things, share their shopping experiences and provide reviews of what they just bought or ate at a restaurant. If companies apply social media in this way they will enhance the overall customer experience.”

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