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Social networking tools can help banks boost their retail operations and rebuild customer trust, but only if the strategy addresses risks, is aligned with business objectives and is backed by top leadership.
• Cognizant ReportsSocial Media Imperatives for Retail Banks Executive Summary messages are exchanged daily. Nevertheless, this Retail banks thrive on customer loyalty. Custom- medium is in its infancy, and initial social net- ers spend a lot of time online and, not surpris- working activities by banks have delivered mixed ingly, prefer performing most of their banking results. But what has clearly emerged is that activities on their computers and mobile devices. banks need a strong social media strategy that Social media, with its inherent ability to gener- is supported by senior leadership. The approach ate more customer engagement than traditional must be driven by clear goals that are aligned advertising media, presents a new opportunity for with the larger business objectives. promotion and brand-building. Internally, social tools can create a collaborative work environ- This may not come easily. Banks are complex ment in the organization and boost productivity. organizations, operating multiple lines of busi- ness under stringent federal regulations. Regu- At the heart of this is the idea that customers latory compliance, in particular, has proved a — internal and external — are the best source of consistent deterrent for customer-facing social feedback and marketing power for banks. Orga- media initiatives. It is critical, therefore, that nizations that realize and build on this concept these initiatives be backed by organization-wide stand to gain the most from their forays into buy-in and address the specific risks that social social networking. networking poses for banks. Following the financial industry meltdown, social Banks are inundated with customer and market tools can help banking institutions boost their data, which resides in individual silos within the retail operations and rebuild trust. Retailers have organization. The rising use of social media by already jumped on the social media bandwagon, customers makes a stronger case for integrat- using it for customer service and marketing; ing these silos of data to create a single version banks can’t afford to miss out on this opportunity, of truth. Consistent customer data throughout too. Similarly, companies that have implemented the organization will enhance communication, social tools within their organizations have expe- which could embolden banks to accelerate their rienced clear benefits. embrace of process virtualization via cloud com- puting models. To optimize customer loyalty and Social networking sites are thriving, with users strategic planning objectives, banks will need interacting with fellow customers and businesses. to invest in analytical tools that can accelerate On Facebook alone, an estimated 30 million actionable insights derived from this data. cognizant reports | november 2011
Grow Revenues, Regain Trust innovative products and services to stay ahead ofStringent regulatory requirements are signifi- the competition, as well as rebuild customer trust.cantly impacting banks’ bottom lines. In response, In a 2011 survey conducted by Ernst & Young, 55%banks will have to optimize their business models, of U.S. respondents said their trust in banks hadoperations and processes and refashion siloed decreased.2 Banks play a crucial role in the econ-systems into integrated, enterprise-wide views to omy, and hence there are demands for a moreachieve cost-efficiency. responsive banking industry from various stake- holders. Winning back consumer trust is crucialFor instance, the Volcker Rule1 put an end to to the survival of banks, and this is where socialproprietary trading, which was a rich source of media fits into the picture. A well-planned socialrevenue for banks, while also limiting banks’ media strategy can help banks create a spaceinvestments into private equity and hedge funds where customers interact with the bank and eachto 3% of their Tier 1 capital. Furthermore, new other, thus allowing banks to gauge customer sen-capital adequacy regulations encourage banks timents, preferences and attitude. These insightsto increase retail deposits. All these factors are help create innovative products and services,forcing banks to focus on their retail business improve branding and promote transparency.for growth. This, in turn, means an increasedemphasis on improving customer-facing activi- In today’s multichannel banking environment,ties for retaining existing customers and adding social media is a key enabler of customer engage-new ones. ment. Customers want to interact with their bank wherever and whenever they wish (such as viaWith competition heating up, however, this is Web sites or mobile devices) rather than havingbecome increasingly difficult. There are over to physically go to the branch or use a landline8,000 banks in the U.S. market, which remains phone. Social media is unique in the sense that itone of the biggest and most competitive in the operates across different channels, such as Twit-world, generating $750 billion a year via retail and ter, Facebook, forums, chats, review sites, socialcommercial operations. Over the years, large for- shopping sites and the bank’s own Web site, justeign players have moved into the market, quickly to name a few, thus allowing banks to create aincreasing their market share. Some have cut into connected and integrated customer experience.the market share of U.S.-based banks with moreinnovative approaches (e.g., online-only bankssuch as Discover Bank). These organizations, with Customer Behavioral Shiftstheir strong online presence, carry little or no bur- The global financial crisis has had a huge influ-den of the legacy systems that have hamstrung ence on customer behavior. Consumers havethe operational flexibility of U.S. banks. become more wary of debt and how they spend their money. Many began saving more and plan-Following the recession, banks have also heav- ning their financials for the long term. Thisily cut costs, with several closing down branches change in spending patterns was accompanied byand eliminating jobs. This trend is unlikely to stop a greater sense of responsibility. Buying decisionsin the coming years as regulators lower banking are now enhanced by research, mostly online,fees, a move that — while much needed — is pro- which involves reading reviews on dedicatedjected to undermine industry performance. The forums and seeking advice from friends and fam-Durbin Amendment, which went into effect in ily, which invariably leads to social networks.July 2011, cut supermarket swipe fees from $0.44to $0.12 per transaction, which is expected to cost The fast uptake of social media by users is athe banking industry $12 billion annually in lost reflection of its power. Facebook reached 700 mil-income. Banks have responded to this in a predict- lion users within seven years of its launch; Twitterable way, such as trying to charge monthly fees reached 200 million within five years; MySpace,for usage of debit cards and other plans. Exten- despite all its financial troubles, has 80 millionsive regulatory reporting obligations mean banks users. According to the research firm Nielsen,need a solid technology framework for capturing Facebook reaches 56% of the active U.S. Inter-and sharing data in order to remain compliant. net universe, with an average monthly usage of six hours. These numbers are indeed compelling,Creating a clear strategy in such times can but perhaps more important is the fact raised bybe difficult. Banks realize they need to create research that active social media users are twice cognizant reports 2
as likely to shop for a new bank, compared with Spreading the Message, Fastless connected consumers.3 At a time when banks are looking to cut costs wherever they can, while extending their reachToday’s consumers are more connected online to a wide audience, social media presents anthan ever, whether through computers, smart- opportunity that can help with both of thesephones or tablets. Leading the way is the millen- goals. Customers use these sites to share theirnial generation.4 This generation of digital natives banking experiences, and banks stand a betterconstitutes 30% of the total U.S. population, and chance of delivering the kind of service that will35% of the Internet-using population, according send a positive message across the board by lis-to the Pew Research Center. Individuals in this tening intently and learning from social mediageneration have adopted new technologies very users. Social media takes the concept of word-of-quickly and in ways that are all encompassing. mouth publicity to a whole new level as messagesMany use advanced tools to plan their invest- spread at an exponential rate. A tweet or a statusments and place a greater emphasis on the online update read by several people can be re-tweetedservice capabilities of banks when researching or commented on by followers if they are compel-a new financial institution, compared with their ling enough. The ability of banks to exploit thisbaby boomer generation parents. Millennials’ phenomenon will determine how successful theirunderstanding of financial institutions is limited, social media strategies will be.which means banks need to reach out to themand create awareness about the various services Companies that have created a presence acrossavailable. In addition to millennials, social net- the popular social networking sites have suc-working has cut across all age groups, with the ceeded in realizing social media’s potential. Fur-number of users significantly increasing over the thermore, they have used various channels suchpast few years (see Figure 1). as mobile devices and their Web sites to direct users to their social networking pages. This hasThis clearly represents a big opportunity for allowed them to listen to and engage with theirbanks to leverage the power of social media to customers.create much-needed interaction with customersof all age groups. Done right, banks can create a Customers typically include a set of people calledvibrant space where they interact with a diverse influencers, who tend to be users of a social net-base of customers on a personalized basis. work with many followers. Other categories of influencers include celebrities, technology gurusSocial Media Use has Increased Across Age Groups% of Internet users who use social network sites, over time90 8380 6770 62 6160 5050 4340 36 34 3530 2020 16 9 1110 4 0 Millennials Gen X Younger Older Silent G.I. All Online (18-33) (34-45) Boomers Boomers Generation Generation Adults (46-55) (56-64) (65-73) (74+) (18+) Dec-2008 May-2010Source: "Internet & American Life Project," Pew Research C enter s April 29-May 30, 2010 Tracking SurveyBase = 2,252 adults 18 and olderFigure 1 cognizant reports 3
or experts in a particular field. Their advice or networks, blogs, videos, wikis, RSS feeds andchoices tend to be taken seriously by other users, podcasts, cut across hierarchies and can allowand banks that have such users in their networks employees at all levels to contribute to the orga-can generate some visibility for their marketing nization’s cause. Idea creation campaigns, prod-efforts. uct naming/tagline contests, internal blogs and wikis are among the initiatives banks should use to capture and convert grassroots ideas into valu-Social Media Inside the Bank able insights that can illuminate customer per-As pervasive as social media has become, there ceptions and improve internal processes. Amidis a strong case for encouraging this medium the industry’s ongoing turmoil, such tools couldwithin the banking organization, as well. A bank’s have a wide array of benefits, from short-terminternal customers are as important a source of operational cost reductions, to lasting benefitsfeedback as external ones, and putting in place a of ensuring better coordination of innovationsystem that can collate employee feedback and thoughts and strategies across the organization.turn it into useful insights can have a multitude ofbenefits. These tools, known as Web 2.0 or Enter- Indeed, early social media adopters in compa-prise 2.0, are designed to create a collaborative nies across various industries have enjoyed mea-workspace where employees across departments surable benefits, according to McKinsey & Co.and geographies can interact. (see Figure 2). Companies with intensive integra- tion of Web 2.0 technologies are likely to experi-The collaborative tools idea is not new. But this ence greater benefits in the future. Additionally,area has now evolved to create an environment such companies also tend to deploy these tech-that encourages participation and boosts creativ- nologies more effectively in customer- and sup-ity. These tools, which include corporate social plier/partner-facing operations.Web 2.0 Technologies Have Delivered Measurable BenefitsPercent of respondents within each industry Percent of respondents within each regiongaining at least one measurable benefit gaining at least one measurable benefitfrom using Web 2.0 technologies* from using Web 2.0 technologies* 75 64 55 High-tech/ Latin 65 India 46 47 Telecom America 48 43 36 Business/ 62 62 54 Legal/ North Developing Professional 60 America 54 47 Markets** services 46 36 41 52 58 53Manufacturing 37 Europe 45 China 52 24 35 41 51 57 Financial 32 Asia-Pacific 47 20 36Use of technologies Internal purposes: Base = 1,032 Customer-related purposes: Base = 870 Working with external partners/suppliers: Base = 627* Includes respondents using at least one Web 2.0 technology, even if on a trial basis.** Excludes China, India and Latin America.Source: "How Companies are Benefiting From Web 2.0," McKinsey & Co., September 2009.Figure 2 cognizant reports 4
Getting it Right Banks Lag in CreatingThe social networking space is in itself dynamic, a Social Media Presencewith several networking sites coming and goingin rapid succession. It is only in the past fewyears, with the emergence of strong contenders 31%such as Facebook and Twitter, that this space has 37%stabilized.Many organizations were wary of leveragingthese sites for a variety of reasons. In the financial 16%space, regulatory concerns and unclear return on 16%investment proved to be a strong deterrent. Those Yesthat managed to overcome initial resistance have No, but we will within 12 monthsbeen able to leverage their experience quickly to No, but we will within 6 months No plans yetreap benefits. Source: "Are Banks Ready for the Next-Generation Customer?" Efma and Oracle Financial Services, September 2010.Compared with other consumer-serving indus- Base = 100tries such as retail and consumer goods, the retail Figure 3banking sector has been a late entrant to socialnetwork engagement (see Figure 3). Neverthe- This strategy is aimed at maintaining customerless, the wariness seems to be giving way to curi- interest in a bank’s products and gives banks aosity, which in turn has led many banks to under- chance to be the first choice of consumers whentake formal social networking initiatives. This they decide to buy a product. This tool has gainedtrend is only going to accelerate as late-arriving popularity with Generation X5 customers, and thebanks join the frenzy. Banks are inherently ser- bank plans to reach out to millennials as well,vice-focused, high-customer-touch organizations, over time.and social media presents an opportunity thatcan be used to their advantage. The Aite Group Along similar lines, SunTrust Bank started itsestimates that by 2012, two-thirds of financial LiveSolid Network, which combines PFM andinstitutions will look to social media for customer social media and is targeted at women agedretention. 25 to 45 years. Wells Fargo has been able to leverage its large customer base to create onlineA Mixed Bag So Far communities, in which customers get free adviceA look back at banks’ social media activity over on financial planning.the past couple of years reveals mixed results.While some banks have taken to the medium as a Customer engagement, education and brandingnatural extension of their customer-facing strat- seem to be top priorities for these banks as theyegy, others have struggled due to lack of clarity. start off in the social media space. Admittedly, there is no one-size-fits-all social media strategy.Take, for example, 1st Mariner Bank, which was one But these banks have a first-mover advantageof the first U.S. banks to engage in social media. and are in a position to quickly adapt if needed.To begin with, the bank did not have a clear-cutstrategy, but it was sure that this medium could There are also cases where banks have experi-not be ignored. The bank exploited social media’s enced the negative effect social media can have.ability to make up for lost interactions at the Australia’s Commonwealth Bank came underbranch level. Through social communication and heavy criticism when its social media policy wassurveys, 1st Mariner was able to create a product made public, which stipulated that employeesthat appealed to its target audience — customers report any criticism of the bank made by othersin their late teens. It also created personal finance on social networks — or face disciplinary action.management (PFM) tools in association with the Social media can also exacerbate potentiallyWeb site Geezeo, which aggregate financial prod- embarrassing events that, before the advent ofucts from different banks to suit users’ financial social networks, would have been easily over-requirements. looked. Consider the case of Chase Bank, which cognizant reports 5
wrongfully had a customer arrested at a bank Banks’ Social Media Experiencebranch who it thought was cashing a fraudulent Remains at a Nascent Stagecheck, as reported by ABC News.6 Later, the bank Q. Which statement best describes your firms experiencewas subject to continued criticism on social media regarding social media?sites for its poor handling of the aftermath.7 8%Bank of America also faced vitriol over its recentdebit card fee announcement — since withdrawn — 39%as it was perceived to mainly impact low-income 32%customers. A Facebook campaign titled “BankTransfer Day” was started to encourage BoFAcustomers to switch to smaller banks that do not 21%charge this fee. The campaign attracted several Advanced: We have a social media competency andaggravated customers to sign up and was aided regularly use social media tools.by the Occupy Wall Street protests. The bank’s Intermediate: We have launched social media effortsefforts to highlight other attractive offers were but dont consider ourselves experts. Novice: We have not launched any social media efforts.lost in the chaos. It finally succumbed to pressure Beginner: We have launched social media efforts butto cancel the planned fee, as did at least three are not very experienced.other competitors that had similar plans in the Source: "Social Media at the Starting Blocks: A Look atworks. Such campaigns demonstrate the power Financial Institutions in Europe and the United States," Aite Group, November 2010.that social media holds. While there are risks Base = 166associated with social media, what is clear is that Figure 4banks can ill-afford not to have an active pres-ence in this space. gram development. Such a strategy is the key to social media success, and banks that figure out what works for them stand to benefit.Full-Fledged, Compelling SocialMedia Strategies Much of social media remains a largely unchartedFor a successful venture into social media, banks territory for banks (see Figure 4); those thatmust start by looking within, identifying strengths have done well are the ones that have taken cau-and building on them. It is important to realize tious yet well-planned first steps. Mastering thisthat each bank is unique. Each holds personal- medium will not be easy. Banks need to plan forized data about clients, which can offer crucial the long term and stick to it. Otherwise, they riskinsights that can be used to inform customer taking hasty steps that do more harm than good.segment strategies. These segments can betargeted with specific offerings/campaigns. Furthermore, these social media initiatives need to be organization-wide and should be integratedFor example, Generation Y and baby boomers with other channels. While banks might see indi-have different expectations from their banks. vidual channels differently, for customers theyWhile the former need assistance with financial are all a gateway to interaction with the bank.planning and prefer the Web as a medium for As such, they demand a similar level of servicebanking activities, the latter do not expect simi- across channels.lar assistance and prefer banking at the branch. Asocial media campaign that targets the younger To exploit the potential of social media, banksgeneration, therefore, needs to take these factors need to create a presence across various socialinto consideration. networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other industry-specific forums. ThisBeyond this, banks need to be clear about which should be supported by links across channels,areas they want to focus on for value generation. such as their Web site, mobile sites and smart-They should work to create a comprehensive phone applications that lead users to these socialsocial media strategy that spans all phases of networking pages. This way, banks can build asocial CRM. This includes developing social com- strong platform in the form of active online com-munities for brand- and trust-building, listening to munities that will be critical to their future socialsocial media and applying these insights to pro- media initiatives. cognizant reports 6
Best Practices Revealed decisions on products and services. AnalyticalCustomers value organizations that value them. tools also allow banks to forecast the response toSuccessful use of social media depends, to a great new products, leading to possible enhancementsextent, on how banks keep users engaged. Banks’ to their offerings.social media activity must be driven by their over-all service objective. Banks need to be nimble inmanaging their daily interaction with customers. Overcoming ChallengesThe following are among the best practices we’ve Banks operate in highly regulated environments.observed that banks can incorporate into their Any external communication must pass a due dili-social media activity. gence check. Indeed, this is one reason why sev- eral banks have stayed away from entering the Be active. This may sound simple, but having social sphere. In a survey by the American Bank- an active social media presence is at the heart ers Association, 74% banks said that social media of a successful strategy. An inactive social efforts were vetted by the compliance depart- media presence will mean that banks lose ment before going live.9 This can cause delays in customer attention. And a prolonged state of response, which in turn could damage the bank’s inactivity could create a negative image of the image. To overcome this, it is important that a bank altogether. bank’s compliance effort is embedded into its Have a real person talking to customers. social media strategy. Furthermore, employees Social networks are informal places, and cus- must be educated about the institution’s social tomers expect casual, day-to-day interac- media policy so they know what they are allowed tion rather than an automated response or to discuss in public. exchanges that seem straight out of the bank’s corporate communications department. Another area of concern for banks is data privacy. Keep conversations interesting and Banks typically accord high confidentiality to relevant. Responses on social networks often their customer information. This makes it impera- depend on how interesting the post is. Banks tive for them to create safeguards that prevent that consistently post interesting messages leakage of private data. This calls for robust data and questions will maintain a high level of user management structures that span the organiza- engagement. tion. Standardized data management structures Respond quickly. Slow responses to queries can eliminate data silos and create a single ver- do not resonate well with users. Fast responses sion of the truth. Such a system will help in pro- result in increased customer satisfaction, tecting customer data and delivering a consistent while also making the job of the frontline customer experience. staff easier. Create a sense of community. Banks that Social media initiatives are inevitable and call for manage to drive a sense of community into a change in the existing culture in banks. This cul- their social networks stand to reap the ben- tural change will go a long way toward maximizing efits, as the community’s influence tends to the benefits banks derive from social media tools. drive customer choice. Track customer sentiment. Tracking positive Established banks face competition from new and negative sentiments on various social net- entrants that have already created strong social works provides an idea of the prevailing senti- media presence and are not burdened by legacy ment about a bank. Banks need to do this on a systems. They must, therefore, identify and imple- regular basis, as this input acts as the pulse of ment tools that integrate social media into their the people. legacy systems. For larger banks, it is imperative that proper coordination exists between the dif-One technology that has emerged as a must- ferent teams that interact with the customer. Thishave in the social arena is social media analyt- calls for strong leadership support. Bank leadersics.8 These systems help banks make sense of must drive social media strategies and identifythe chatter on various social networks and can the right talent in-house who can act as changedig out useful insights that can drive fact-based agents in creating a pro-social media culture. cognizant reports 7
In our view, banks can successfully leverage the Invest in educating employees about socialpower of social media by doing the following: media policy. Put in place a full-fledged and comprehensive Embed social media into the organization’s social strategy aligned with business goals. culture. Create organization-wide buy-in by ensuring Identify compliance-related risks and incorpo- sponsorship by executive leadership. rate appropriate measures in the strategy. Identify and measure key metrics related to Standardize data management struc- the social media strategy. tures across the organization to improve coordination.Footnotes1 According to the Financial Times, the Volcker Rule aims to limit risky behavior within banks. Banks that take retail deposits are not allowed to engage in proprietary trading that is not directly relevant to customer-related market making and trading activities. These banks would also be prohibited from owning or sponsoring hedge funds or private equity funds.2 “A New Era of Customer Expectation: Global Consumer Banking Survey 2011,” Ernst & Young.3 “Consumers Who Use Social Media Are More Likely to Purchase,” blog post, Council on Financial Competition, Corporate Executive Board, April 5, 2011.4 The Pew Research Center defines millennials as the generation that was born after 1980 — the first generation to come of age in the new millennium.5 According to the Pew Research Center, Generation X constitutes the population aged between 34 to 45 years.6 Reshma Kirpalani and Christina Ng, “Washington Man Wrongfully Arrested for Check Fraud at Chase Bank Branch,” ABC News, July 9, 2011.7 Gavin James, “Transforming Negative Sentiment into a Winning Customer Experience,” blog post, Beyond the Arc, October 2011.8 “Building Sustainable Competitive Advantage with Advanced Analytics,” Cognizant Research Center, June 2011.9 Brett King, “Social Media and Bank Compliance Departments: Eternal Enemies?” blog post, Banking4Tomorrow.com.Bibliography“Eight Principles for Social Media in Banking,” IDC Financial Insights, September 2011.“The Durbin Amendment: Swipe Fees Impact On Credit and Credit Scores,” Credit.com, June 2011.“Social Media Expertise is A Joke,” Bank Systems & Technology, May 2011.“Despite Low Interest Rates and Dismal Returns, There is Hot Competition for Customer Deposits,”The Economist, May 12, 2011.“Social Media: More Than Just a Passing Fad, Say Bankers,” Finextra, April 2011.“Implications of Dodd-Frank for the U.S. Banking and Financial Services Industry,” Reflections Journal,Cognizant Technology Solutions, May 2011.Lisa Banks, “Banking Sector Must Learn from NAB Social Media: Ovum,” Computerworld.com,February 16, 2011.Dion Hinchcliffe, “As Collaboration Goes Social, Where Will it Thrive?” blog post, ZDNet,February 15, 2011. cognizant reports 8