24% of Bank Customers in Germany are Happy to Communicate with their...

24% of Bank Customers in Germany are Happy to Communicate with their Bank on Twitter or Facebook

Moments ago, I came across a post on CIO.de entitled “Deutsche wollen kein Twitter-Banking” (“German do not want a Twitter-Banking”).

I am not sure what the study wanted to prove: Germany banks shouldn’t bother leveraging social media?
This article put a smile on my face and urged me to share my comments “a chaud” in this post.

First of all, please find below the English translation:
Press-CIOde-TwitterBanking-20July2010“Three-quarters of the German bank customers reject social media as a communication channel with their bank. Most important is the personal interview.
Twitter and Facebook may be good friends with the chatter – when it comes to money, the Germans are rather serious. This suggests at least one survey by the online market researcher Toluna. It explain about three out of four respondents (76 percent), they could not imagine to communicate with their bank via Twitter or Facebook.
Despite all the modern communications to bank customers to see the man at the counter. 42 percent of respondents prefer a personal interview.
29 percent also want to take over the Internet portal of the Bank Contact. 22 percent use e-mail and 16 percent pick up the phone.

Toluna Germany based in Frankfurt, has commissioned the Hamburg PR Agency Facts office interviewed about 1,000 Germans.”

First of all there are two ways to comment those results: the half-full or half-empty cup. I am pleasantly surprised that so many German wouldn’t mind communicating with their bank via the social media channel.

What is the Definition of “Twitter-Banking”?
Then, we would need to qualify the terms “twitter-banking” or”facebook-banking”? Indeed, so far studies demonstrated that facebook users weren’t too interested in having access to online banking features within their favourite social network. Also, twitter has a reputation: it is not that secure, so would you really be prepared today to do basic online banking requests within the most popular microblogging site? Vantage Credit Union believed so when they became the first financial institution to provide online banking within the twitter interface. But in all fairness, it was much more of a (very successful) “marketing coup” which gave the bank an enormous amount of media coverage in the US.

Let’s step back for a minute. Social media has the potential to impact virtually every single department of the bank: from HR, corporate branding or Corporate Social Responsibility, all the way to marketing or customer support. So are we talking here about selling financial products? Or supporting your clients?

The Power of “the Few”
I think we are missing the point here. So what, it looks like 25% of the respondents are happy to interact with their bank on twitter or facebook. It is already a sizable number of German people, don’t you think? And the proportion will keep on growing. It is also very likely that a fair part of those people are active online, hence they are building their personal brand, and they surely have a decent level of influence among their communities on twitter, facebook, or in the blogosphere.

Customer Reviews & Customer Support
Everybody would agree on the fact that people trust their peers more than your ads. I believe research demonstrated that about 85% of consumers buy products based on recommendations. Customer reviews are user-generated so from my opinion they have to qualify as an element of a social media strategy. It enables online retailers like Amazon, but also financial institutions like Bank of America or USAA, to significantly increase the CTR and application rates of their online marketing campaigns and eventually sell more products online. Customer reviews also have a positive impact on SEO and help brands identify areas of improvement or co-create new products with their customers.

Don’t you think most Germany people are keen to get access to transparent customer feedback and reviews? It also help financial institutions change brand perception and increase the level of trust.

What about your clients who are using twitter or facebook to express their anger or their disappointment? Remember that it is usually their last resort. Banks can’t afford not to be aware of those conversations (positive or negative), they have to reach out to those customers to demonstrate they listen, they care, and they are here to help. It gives them a unique opportunity to turn a detractor into a brand advocate who will be likely to spread the word around.

Can you imagine how receptive and appreciative your customers would be if you’d respond swiftly via a social media channel like twitter? You are thinking ROI: how much do you value a client relationship saved, and a couple of new clients won on the back of it?

Stats – German Banks on Twitter
As part of my Visible Banking Social Media Watch Series, I am now tracking well over 1,300 twitter accounts from financial institutions in 60+ countries.

I am tracking 99 twitter accounts in Germany from financial institutions such as the large banks like Deutsche Bank to the local Sparkasse. My current top 5 most followed accounts is: 1. Buergschaft, 2.Deutsche_News, 3. GLS Bank, 4. AZ_Knowledge, 5. allianz_de.

This is another proof that German financial institutions recognize that they have to leverage social media. Most of them still don’t do it well, but more and more are trying which is positive.

You also have a couple of new players in the banking industry who are real champions of transparency, customer advocacy, and social media: Ficobaand Noa Bank. I invite you to watch my video interview with my friend Matthias Kroener, the inspirational and visionnary CEO of Fidor AG.

And please read the guest post on social media & finance in Germanywritten by another German friend, and fellow blogger, Boris Janek.

So how many of you, dear readers, still think that Germans do not want “twitter-banking”?

Financial Institutions Must Support their Customers on Twitter
Please find below a presentation I delivered last year focused on customer support on twitter.

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