Money & Banking

Banks stepping up presence on social networking sites

K. Ram Kumar Priya Nair Mumbai | Updated on January 17, 2012 Published on January 15, 2012

Quick response: The feedback received on the Web sites is acted up to improve customer service.

With almost half of the country's population below 30 years of age, banks are gradually stepping up their presence in the virtual world, connecting with current and potential customers through social networking Web sites, especially Facebook.

Banks are sharing information, among others, about their products and services; showcasing latest offers; giving tips on saving money and investing; how to use credit cards safely; and conducting contests on Facebook to engage their young ‘friends' (customers as well as potential customers).

Given that word spreads fast on the Web, banks are also showing urgency in responding to customer grievance/feedback on their Web site. Bankers know all too well that an unhappy customer's adverse comments about a product or service could have implications for the bank's reputation.

The feedback received on the Web site is acted upon to improve customer service. For example, recently an IDBI Bank customer pointed out that the bank's Internet banking account was compatible only with the Internet Explorer browser and not with Google Chrome. The bank is now working on providing Net banking access on Google Chrome.

IDBI Bank is also planning to have a presence on Facebook's rival Google+ to give its customers a choice to connect with the bank from either of the social networking Web sites.

What's on offer?

A perusal of banks' presence on social networking Web sites shows that besides plying their wares, they are using the non-obtrusive two-way communication tool to inform/ educate stakeholders about how to use mobile banking to transfer money, making utility bill payments on the Net, tips to manage money, latest tax-free bond offerings, and so on.

Banks are also keeping their friends hooked to their Facebook link by showcasing various cash back/ discount/ voucher offers on spends using credit/debit cards, offering extra reward points/discounts for shopping at particular apparel and accessory outlets; dining; entertainment; and travel and holidays.

Banks are conducting opinion polls/surveys on Facebook and also rewarding the participants. For example, Citibank has asked questions such as ‘Where would you like to see the next Citibank ATM in Bangalore?' and ‘Which utility bill would you like to get cash-back on?'

The answers to these questions help a bank understand customers' requirements and act accordingly.

Banking via Facebook

Earlier this month, ICICI Bank announced that its customers can access their bank account directly on Facebook through a secure socket layer protocol-based application.

Standard Chartered Bank is using Facebook as a means of understanding customers' behaviour pattern. Recently the bank launched Breeze Banking, a credit card/ savings account proposition. It allows for a virtual chat and integration to Facebook through the wish-list feature.

According to Mr Sanjeeb Chaudhuri, Regional Head of South Asia and Chief Marketing Officer, Consumer Banking, Standard Chartered Bank, social media is a holistic solution that can be used for dealing with customer queries and complaints as well as used for marketing.

Resolution of complaints

Bankers say that down the line, the banking regulator, the Banking Ombudsman, and the Banking Codes and Standards Board of India could take suo motu cognisance of complaints on banks' social networking Web sites in cases of rampant deficiency in service.

With all complaints being in the public domain on a social networking Web site, bankers will be on their toes to ensure that there is no delay in taking remedial steps.

How banks stack up

Axis Bank (4,21,321 people like the bank's Facebook site), Citibank (3,16,438) and IDBI Bank (1,61,571) are among the few banks that have a vibrant Web site for social networking.

Most of the other banks' Web sites have followers ranging from a few hundreds to a few thousands.

As the lyrics of the Airtel TV advertising campaign go, bankers too are humming ‘ Har Ek Friend Zaroori Hota Hai' on their social networking Web sites.

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Published on January 15, 2012
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