By Michalis Michael, CEO of DigitalMR
Social media has impacted the banking sector significantly over the last decade and, particularly in recent years, tools like social listening have played a leading role in revolutionising banking businesses and their customer relationships.
Also known as 'social intelligence', social listening is the monitoring of a brand's social media channels for any customer feedback, direct mentions, or relevant discussions, followed by an analysis to gain insights and act on emerging opportunities.
Banks today are facing immense pressure from ever-increasing customer expectations. In fact, a recent social intelligence report compiled by DigitalMR analysed customer sentiment and conversation drivers amongst 11 leading global banks during the period of February 2018 to April 2020 and found customer relationships hit an all-time low during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.
As a result, traditional financial institutions have a lot of work to do to rebuild their reputations while at the same time competing with countless challenger banks, and embracing digital tools like social listening will be key for them to stand out against competition and draw customers back in.
Here are 5 of the main ways social listening is transforming the banking sector and becoming paramount for organisations to optimise their marketing and growth strategies and, ultimately, get ahead.
- Customer experience
Social media isn't just about communicating a brand – it's about learning what consumers want, and what they don't want. It plays a key part in customer experience, which directly affects the way every business is perceived.
Many banking customers turn to social media to talk about their experiences with a brand and will sooner tweet the bank or post a scathing review on Google than call customer service about any issues.
Using social listening to monitor what customers think about everything, from their marketing campaigns to product quality and in-branch service, banks can uncover valuable information which allows them to positively impact a customer's experience and commitment to their brand.
- Marketing campaigns
Banks' marketing teams spend a lot of time coming up with new campaigns to launch but lack the insight into whether or why their campaigns have succeeded, and how to improve or build upon those efforts.
However, using social listening, they can identify ways to improve the value of their marketing campaigns by tracking changes in the volume of their brand's mentions before, during and after. This will ultimately help determine how well they are working and highlight areas that need to be modified and improved.
Not only that, banks can use social listening to gather qualitative insight and decipher the reasons why specific campaigns have done well [or not so well]. Social listening allows them to quickly gather sentiment around specific campaigns and find out which aspects of the campaign are resonating with customers the most.
- Competitive analysis
Social listening enables banks to gather insight not only into their own brands, but into their competitors' brands, too. Using semantic analysis, they can analyse what people say about one company compared to another and evaluate the share of conversation that takes place online about a given brand. Social listening can also make it easier for traditional banks to understand how their brand is doing compared to FinTech start-ups [challenger banks], which are becoming a growing threat to many banks and taking their customers away.
Social listening analytics reveal what customers like and dislike when it comes to challenger bank service features and give traditional banks the opportunity to upgrade their products and services to catch-up or [if they are really determined] gain a competitive edge, as well as understand how to market to customers interested in innovative app features.
- Identifying crises
With how fast-moving social media is, it takes no time at all for something to go 'viral', and therefore banking institutions need to monitor closely for negative press at all times. Unhappy customers can post anything they wish online to try and hurt their bank's brand, regardless of whether their claims are based on fact, and their comments can quickly gain attention and be seen by thousands.
Banks can use social listening to catch potential crises as they emerge and shut down a problem in the early stages, so they don't end up with a full-blown crisis management situation on their hands.
- Product development
Banks can power their product and service development by intelligent listening to social media and monitoring customer reviews. This allows them to gain additional input and ideas on how to better improve their existing offerings to suit the preferences and expectations of their customers, as well as to identify which new product lines to prioritise launching first. They can use social listening to test the waters before a new launch or roll-out, and reduce the risk involved in bringing new products or services to market.
The finance industry was slow to embrace social media, but the institutions that did take the plunge are reaping the benefits. Social intelligence will continue to transform the sector in years to come, and now is a critical time for the rest of the industry to follow suit if they want to remain competitive and drive stronger, profitable and mutually beneficial relationships in this new social reality.