Trust in the financial services industry has been eroded throughout the coronavirus crisis.
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 pandemic, leaving banks with a huge mountain to climb in order to rebuild their rapport.
In today’s world breaming with challenger banks, dissatisfied customers can switch provider literally with the click of a button and, if banks are to turn things around, they must rethink their approach to customer relationships and embrace social intelligence that puts them in the driving seat with customers.
Also referred to as ‘social listening’, social intelligence is when you track your social media platforms and other public online sites for mentions and conversations related to your brand and competitors. It helps you understand what’s going right, what’s going wrong and where you need to improve, so you can take this insight and find ways to put it into action.
Here are five reasons social intelligence is the key to helping banks improve their customer relationships post-lockdown.
It allows them to better understand their customers
Social intelligence is all about gaining a better understanding of your customers by uncovering valuable information. Gleaning information on customers through listening, and understanding them in their own words and on their own terms can allow banks to not only create more tailored products and services, but also to positively impact a customer’s experience and commitment to their brand.
It can also highlight any issues that could negatively impact the customer journey, giving banks the opportunity to address problems and make adjustments to better meet customer needs.
It helps stimulate customer trust
A major survey in August 2018 by YouGov revealed 66 per cent of the British public don’t trust banks to operate in the interest of society as a whole and, despite banks responding to the coronavirus pandemic by offering extra support to both consumers and businesses, our research suggests the level of customer trust in the banking sector has remained flat.
To rebuild this trust, banks can employ social intelligence to access quasi real time data and analysis which enables them to quickly react to any developments that could impact their customers and/or their businesses. Not only will this help customers feel valued and understood, a responsive approach will set banks apart from their competition and position them as a trusted provider, whilst allowing them to develop meaningful customer relationships for the long term.
It enables them to address customer needs and concerns publicly
Nowadays, if a customer wants to make their views about their bank known, they will often take to the internet. Whether it’s a tweet commenting on the queues at their local branch or discussing the best mortgage deals on a financial forum, the public’s praise and opprobrium is now documented for all to see on the world wide web, regardless of whether or not it is factually accurate. Therefore, banks in particular need to be socially adept to address customer needs and concerns, provide outstanding customer service and proactively manage their online reputations.
Banks can use social listening to identify customer issues and challenges as they happen, take the conversation offline and resolve the problem before it negatively impacts the customer relationship.
It delivers better customer engagement
For many years, banks have fallen short when it comes to genuinely engaging with customers. However, with the rise of social media and access to tools like social listening, they have the means to improve their engagement capabilities.
Effectively engaging with customers is a two-way transaction – it’s no longer about pushing sales messaging and advertising and hoping that something sticks. Using social listening, banks can optimise their engagement with customers and gain real insight into their sentiment, needs and behaviour.
Not only that, social listening allows banks to see instantly when a user posts something online that is related to their brand, and social media managers can interact with the audience and join online discussions, increasing customer engagement and brand loyalty.
It assists competitive analysis
Finally, tracking competitors’ digital footprint is crucial for any brand to stay ahead of the curve, and particularly for the crowded banking industry. To set themselves apart and achieve a deeper understanding of their peers and the industry as a whole, banks need to conduct frequent competitive analysis.
Social listening can help banks have competitive intelligence not only frequently but on-tab. They can keep track of competitors’ marketing strategies, understand their behaviours, strengths and weaknesses, and identify untapped market opportunities to accelerate business growth.
In addition, by understanding what customers are saying about competing banks, their offerings and any issues they are experiencing, banks can use this insight to make changes to their products and services and gain a competitive edge.
Banks are at a pivotal moment following the coronavirus lockdown, and the decisions and actions they take now will have a big effect on customer sentiment, loyalty, and trust in the long term.
Accurate data is a crucial part of any good sales and marketing initiative, and the more high-fidelity data available to banks, the better their odds of success. By embracing digitalisation and utilising the right social listening platform, banks can gain the extra intelligence they need on a more granular level to build sustainable and meaningful customer relationships which will ultimately engender trust and loyalty.
Michalis Michael CEO of DigitalMR