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First direct – Social Media Strategy, Brand Relevance and Personality. More than a Bank, a Club. [INTERVIEW]

This is the one of the two interviews I recorded in early August at the first direct head office in Leeds. Last week, I had the pleasure to spend a few hours with Paul Say – Head of MarketingNatalie Cowen – Head of Brand and Communications and Amanda Brown – PR Manager.

A big THANK YOU to Amanda for making those interviews happen, and for her guided tour of the first direct open plan office. It was great to see where “the magical customer conversations” happen.
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Providing the Same Element of Magic on the Phone and Online
Time flies! I remember sharing my comments on first direct interactiveback in July 2007…

Since HSBC’s’ 100% direct bank launched back 22 years ago, first direct has constantly focused on providing the best customer relationships on the phone. Since then, with the fantastic take up of the internet in the UK and the growing level of activity online on forums and other online communities like facebook or twitter, first direct is committed to translate its “magic customer conversations” from the phone to online.

In the last three years, unarguably first direct has been one of the most active financial institutions in the UK in social media with a social media newsroom, mylittleblackbook – a recommendation sharing site -, talkpoint – transparent customer feedback on their site -, a youtube channel, a twitter account (@first_direct, in the top 10 twitter accounts in the UK)…

A few weeks ago, they launched a facebook page and since last week the first direct Lab (crowdsourcing) is now live. This is another major step in first direct social media strategy, from listening to sharing with their customers. ‘Live’ and unedited customer feedback will set a big challenges (in terms of risk and concerns from first direct’s HSBC colleagues…) but it will also present some fantastic opportunities.

Excellent. At last, this is some genuine transparency from the most recommended, and most loved, UK bank. By the way, in your opinion what is transparency in financial services (PR & Marketing, crowdsourcing, Voice Of the Customer, strategic, financial)?

Interview with Paul Say, first direct’s Head of Marketing
I invite you to watch my video with Paul, available on our YouTube channel.

Agenda
* Intro
* Great customer conversations on the phone. Online? Social Media? (00:32)
* Three-step social media strategy (01:09)
* Attracting talent and driving employee advocacy (02:38)
* More than a bank, first direct is a “club” (04:41)
* From listening to sharing… the first direct Lab (06:04)
* Outreach strategy. From contact center to conversation center (08:08)
* Team structure. Over and beyond PR… (09:29)
* Authentic experiences. Live and learn! (11:08)
* Transparency & New CEO. Towards more customer generated content.(12:43)
* User profiling is needed to increase relevance of feedback (14:10)
* Keep following first direct online (15:10)

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