Social Customer Care in Financial Services: Providing Compliant White-Glove Service

The global economic crisis has made a huge dent in consumer trust in financial institutions, and the industry as a whole. The importance of trust in these institutions remains at the top of the list of priorities for the financial services industry as it continues its path to recovery. But despite improvements in this measure as a result of increased transparency and engagement, the need to rebuild trust through not only performance, but also through a customer-centric approach is becoming apparent.

Financial institutions looking to take a more customer-centric approach and meet their customers where they live are increasingly finding that it is through online, mobile, and social channels. With more and more consumers interacting with their financial provider via social media channels, the need for always-on, real-time customer care moves from a “nice-to-have” to an absolute business necessity.

Today’s consumer wants to be engaged in a way that demonstrates that their financial services institution has a deep understanding of their personal goals. They are looking for financial institutions to move away from a product-focused, sales approach, towards an approach where their needs—and money—are managed like a white-glove concierge. But with myriad regulations and compliance standards placed on financial institutions from organizations like FINRA and the SEC, how can financial services institutions provide this high-touch social care while remaining compliant?

Create Clear Roles, Policies, Procedures, and Goals

Experimentation is not a luxury that the financial services industry can afford when it comes to social media. While the benefits of social media for these institutions—from marketing new financial products and services to identifying new investors and accounts to retaining existing customers—are apparent, usage needs to map back to the strategic goals of the institution. Once those goals have been identified, clearly defined policies and procedures for compliant use of social must be developed and shared across the organization.

Train Employees on Compliant Social Media Use

What many employees may not realize is that regardless of whether they directly communicate on behalf of the company on social, their content, comments, and posts on personal channels may also be perceived as communication from the institution. The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) has developed guidelines to help navigate the risks and operate in a compliant manner on social. All employees across the institution should be trained, frequently, on the regulations and disclosures provided by the associated regulatory bodies.

Less is More—Choose the Right Channels

The financial services industry is subject to more regulations than just about any other industry. Both the SEC and FINRA provide regular spot checks for compliant usage of social, which has led to widely publicized fines levied against financial institutions, both large and small. And while today’s consumer looks to increase interaction with their financial institutions on social, that doesn’t mean that organizations should jump on every social network. Utilizing market research and analytics to understand your target audiences and where they are most active will not only provide a more targeted strategy, but will also help focus resources. Additionally, using the information that is collected by combining CRM data with social analytics can enable up-sell, cross-sell, and nurture of long-term customer relationships.

Constantly Tend to Your Social “Garden”

While providing engaging content to your clients and community is table stakes, understanding the needs, goals, and pain points of customers through listening is paramount, and will help feed the content engine. For example, auditing social interactions to identify the most common incoming questions and requests from customers. This insight can then be used to create content that your social care team can provide to customers in a timely manner.

Map Out Your Response

Building out a message map of known and anticipated questions, and a framework for a response, helps lend some process to how to respond to customers in public conversations. For financial services and other highly regulated industries, response maps can reduce the risk of erratic response and acts as an efficiency aid for community managers and social care agents who are tasked with managing hundreds of social posts per day.

Follow Through and Follow Up

Reaching out, engaging, and following through with customers is critical for building real relationships. Financial Services institutions can take a very calculated approach to jumping into social, scrutinizing guidelines, regulations, and customer behavior before deciding whether to engage. But once a channel has been launched, it’s not just about posting information, but engaging and collaborating with customers —understanding what their challenges are, and working together to find a resolution. If you request a customer to communicate with you in another non-social channel, such as voice or email, be sure to follow the conversation through to resolution while tracking that conversation across the channels used.

Following through and following up creates positive customer sentiment toward a company. Even if the information being communicated is not what the customer wants to hear, or if an answer isn’t immediately available, knowing the agent followed through in a timely and professional manner can mitigate the negative impact.

Contact Customers Before They Contact You

Social care agents should embrace the idea of proactive customer care. They have the ability to reach out to customers before they become frustrated and dissatisfied about an issue. For example, a DDoS attack hits your network at 6:00am, effectively taking down your bank’s network. Before customers start receiving a DNS error when attempting to access the bank’s website and their accounts, utilizing social channels to proactively communicate the issue and estimated time to resolution, can stem the tide of negative sentiment from customers.   

As the financial services industry and social media marketing landscape changes, so comes the opportunity for these institutions. By placing the needs and goals of customers front and center, these institutions can create value and long-lasting relationships with their customers.

Ray Rahmati's picture

Ray Rahmati

Ray Rahmati is Spredfast’s lead social business consultant in the Mid-Atlantic region, serving our customers’ needs with everything from strategic guidance to planning and training. He is also a professional and college sports fanatic and second-screener who can be found tailgating on any given Saturday or Sunday.