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South African Customer: Has Social Media Resurrected a Defeated and Deflated Banking Industry?

Since the most recent recession the banking Industry has been reeling to regain market trust. In order to regain some of this trust they turned to social media, so has social media resurrected a defeated and deflated banking industry?

Since the explosion of Social Media, with specific reference to Facebook, the improved level of communication and its shrinking affect on the world, businesses have been struggling to get a hold of how best to use it.

In South Africa, Facebook has a market penetration of about 5 million users. Although this does not constitute a significant portion of the population, it does in my opinion include a significant amount of the population that makes use of the banking system.

South African banking is dominated by a few giants of the industry, this often leaves the consumer feeling unable to approach or even think about challenging the status quo. I have often felt that no matter how I was treated or what happened I had no recourse in challenging the outcome. Judging by the large amount of the population who choose not to engage with the banking system it seems to be a widely held view.

Social media portals allow the general public to interact directly and in real time with the big organizations that would traditionally require you to stand in long queues for hours on end to resolve any issues. This for me is incredibly powerful and something that every bank should be engaging in. The convenience and peace of mind that comes with knowing that queries can be resolved quickly and without having to worry about trying to rush to banks before they close is priceless.

The South African banking industry’s integration of social media into their daily operations has sought to change the general public’s view of the industry, although one may argue more for cosmetic purposes than anything else. I have recently used ABSA’s Facebook profile to get answers I had to questions about vehicle finance. The questions were answered quickly and handled intimately. What I mean by intimately is that I felt like it was a one on one conversation with an individual rather than a “customer service representative” or the likes of.

However, this is only a small portion of what the banking industry could be offering through social media portals. South African businesses in general have used social media merely as communication and advertising tools, and not taking into account their possibilities as platforms. The possibility of using Facebook to help customers track and better manage their spending habits, or to check balances and manage various types of loan agreements quickly and easily. These possibilities will be the future of not only social media but the way society deals with all big business.

Big business has only scratched the surface in discovering how best to use social media platforms to engage their customers, so what’s next?

More on the Author: Andrew (South Africa)
Andrew is a 23 years old South African, he is very active on Facebook and moderately active on Twitter. Andrew banks with both ABSA and Capitec, and he uses both online and mobile banking.

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