At Last, Barclays Bank Starts Supporting its Customers on Twitter

Social customer care is one of my favorite topics, and I covered it extensively on the Visible Banking blog.  I invite you to check those slides and this video on the topic.

In the last couple of years, US banks have invested significant budget and resources to provide timely customer care on the most popular micro-blogging service with the likes of Citi (@AskCiti), Wells Fargo (@Ask_WellsFargo), American Express (AskAmex) or Bank of America (@BofA_Help).

Unsurprisingly, those accounts are among the most active financial services accounts worldwide, and respectively #85, #58, #40 and #25 inour Visible Banking Twitter Watch series (the ranking is based on the size of the follower bases of over 1,600 FS accounts in 72 countries).

Brands and Customer Care on Twitter (a Global Report)
My team is working putting together the most comprehensive and insightful report ever produced on customer support on twitter globally.  For months, we’ve been tracking over 220 accounts in 13 countries from financial services firms, but also FMCG, media, travel…
Please reach out to us to confirm your interest.

Earlier today, Barclays Bank officially launched @BarclaysOnline its twitter account dedicated to customer support.  But how innovative is that move in the conservative UK banking industry?

The Barclays team created the account on 19/07/2011, about a month after HSBC created @HSBC_UK_Online its own twitter account dedicated to responding to all customer queries related (exclusively?) to its controversial secure key.Those accounts demonstrate once more than four of the key reasons for financial instutions to embrace social media are competitor activity and crisis management.
The url on the Barclays account redirect to the Barclays Social Media Terms and Conditions available on the bank’s corporate site (including sections listing Barclays inittiatives on twitter, facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Other -blog and online community-).
Barclays-Twitter-Launchcustomersupport-TandCsMy Take
I was expecting this long overdue move into the customer care space from Barclays for quite some time.There is nothing innovative here.  Barclays is one of the last large UK financial institutions to jump on the social care bandwagon behind the Lloyds Banking Group (Halifax, Lloyds TSB and Bank of Scotland), American Express and now HSBC.Having said that, even though Barclays’ move was slow, better late than never!  And considering that Virgin Money, first direct and Metro Bank, three financial institutions proud of their ‘magical conversations’  on the phone or at their branches and their excellent customer relationships still seem surprisingly reluctant to support their clients on twitter…But Barclays had such a long time for planning, I must admit I am somehow disappointed with this first version of the account.

Please find below my initial comments:
+ on twitter, your first job is to convey trust from your page, and make tweeps comfortable talking with you there.  With its clear description and link to their website, Barclays does a good job.  Next: getting the verified badge like Lloyds Banking Group and HSBC, and creating their own url shortener…

– no picture, name, intro of the team.  Signing your tweets with initials is almost pointless if you don’t introduce your team…

– the background is surprisingly blank: there is no description of the page, no social media cross-promotion, no pictures of the team, no security reminder….  But please note that it is on par with Barclays’ key competitors in the UK.

This is just the beginning of Barclays’ journey in social customer care.  My team will be closely tracking the UK bank’s content strategy (syntax -including abbreviations-, frequency, proportion of servicing tweets…), response strategy (proactive, SLAs, call-to-action…), and following strategy.  Stay tuned on VB.

And for more innovative social customer care initiatives in financial services, I invite you to check out initiatives from Italy’s Webank (twitter),Peru’s Interbank (facebook and twitter) or Citibank US (twitter via iPad app).

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Written by Christophe Langlois

Based in London, Christophe is an entertaining social media keynote speaker and a trusted advisor to the global financial services industry on the topics of social media, social business and digital innovation.

Christophe has contributed to over 140 events in 18 countries.

Currently, Christophe is 'Social Media Senior Managing Consultant' at IBM Interactive Experience. He's also a Digital Advisor at the Financial Services Forum and the Moller Centre (part of the Churchill College in Cambridge).

Christophe's views on are his own, not necessarily his employer's.

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