BNL People Social Conversations

‘BNL People’ Gets 5/10: Is ‘The Bank Next Door’ A Utopia? [Customer Voice]

In his second guest article, Vincenzo – a real banking customer and an Italian living in Spain – shares his views on ‘BNL People’, BNL’s latest take on being perceived as ‘The Bank Next Door’.

BNL People Social ConversationsIn March 2012, I announced the launch of the ‘Voice of the Customer’ series on

If you are interested in sharing your own personal, unbiased, feedback on one of your bank’s or insurance company’s social media or digital activities, I invite you to email us.

In his article, Vincenzo shares his feedback on BNL People.


BNL People: do “the Bank of the next door” really exists?

BNL, Italian Bank Institution is trying to change the vision of Banks in Italy. The crisis, were banks had a negative lead role, has created a bad image of Banks and they are considered untrustworthy and even dangerous for a lot of people. BNL People, this is the name of the project, with videos, blogs and social networks tries to promote a new point of view of banks made of common peoples as customer. Will this umpteenth kind of customer engagement based on social banking works or are just good ideas without practical realization?

Due to the international crisis in the last years the image of banks around the world is damaged: they are accused to be the main responsible of economical troubles in a lot of countries. For customers the old vision of the bank as a place where save money or ask money has changed without remedy: today even a small bank in the smallest town of the world looks like a Speculator’s Lair where they can do what they want without consequences. A lot of persons are ruined because of some strange investment that their bank recommended them and where both – bank and customer – have lost a lot of money, for a strange case customers pays their dues and bank receives money from the Government as an aid and without any guarantees against this kind of fool speculations in the future. So citizens pay two times: pay their dues and pay, with higher taxes, the money that States gives to banks.

In this conditions, especially in countries like Italy or Spain, is difficult for a Bank Institution recover a good image in the perception of customers or potential customers, but, thanks to Web 2.0 and social networks some effort to create a real “social banking” can be helpful. Among these efforts I want to propose a review of an initiative of the Italian Bank BNL. The project is called “BNL People” and its purpose is show trough blogs, videos and social networks, the new face of the bank, or said with their words, the “REAL” face of BNL. If we analyze the idea under a sociological and psychological point of view the we can say that hits the target: BNL is trying to show that a Bank is not a mysterious conspiracy hided behind incomprehensible inner workings that only with a Master Degree in Finance and Economics we will understand but an Institution made of persons as customer.

The most important thing in BNL People to engage the audience are videos: they show people that work in the Institution: Managers, Marketer, Recruiters…everyone is part of the “BANK” but is also a person that does his job and lives his own life with passions, struggles and dreams. We can see persons, with their names, their positions in the Institution, while they talk about some aspect of their life that is the most important for them: passions as sport, art, photos, family, nature…

These videos are an attempt of share a different point of view on banks showing of what the Bank is made, that is people that work there. Usually if we think about bank we use to image cold and boring persons, focused on money, especially if we thing on persons that hold a senior: in BNL People videos are made with the intention of create an identification between customers and workers of BNL through their passion and their humanity.
The idea is good but the result is not up to the task: if the objective is show real persons, videos looks a little bit “fictional” and may appears as stories of personal achievements. They show persons with a good job that haves the financial independence needed to dedicate time to their passions, and this is not a very “real” condition for a lot of persons. In fact, unfortunately, in Italy today a lot of unemployed or underpaid persons don’t have time or money to cultivate a passion, so showing happy people in some mawkish video is not a great step for BNL in the world of social banking.

These videos are not sufficient for identify the customer with the human capital of the bank and aren’t helpful for customer engagement, because they are not showing how safe is the bank and how different is related to the financial crisis: they are just showing how lucky are persons with a good job and a good life. Thanks to this the second part of BNL People, the “social” part that is very interesting stays in the background. The space for communicate directly with the bank through Facebook, Twitter and with an always ready customer care is not valued as it deserve and videos don’t encourage visitors to start an interaction with the bank, in same case they can cause the opposite effect: after the first video I wanted to leave the page!

BNL People Tennis Video
“One of the videos of Bnl People: she’s a director of a Bank Office and she’s a good tennis player but…who cares?”

Related to BNL People there is a Facebook apps that creates an Infographic (called La Mia Infografica) with a lot of statistics of user’s “Facebook life” (how long are you on Facebook, where your friends come from, what are your favorites Facebook friends…) that is good for collect a lot of “Likes” and to reach a lot of Facebook Profiles. Practically this app is only good for spam purpose or something similar because this kind of statistics are very popular on Facebook but I can’t find the link with a simple and fun application and a potential customer of a Bank: I don’t think that someone choose a Bank because they will tell me how many days I spent on Facebook with a cool graphic. If this is customer engagement based on a new concept of banking I hope that the “New Bank” don’t needs to use a game to obtain access to my Facebook Profile.

BNL People Social Rankings
“A part of the the Infographic created with the Application “La Mia Infografica” part of the social banking project called BNL People. This is “social” but…where is the “banking” part in this?”

The more interesting project of Social Banking of BNL is BNL EduCare: a blog related to a Facebook Page that contains a lot of interesting information about topics of Banking, Finance and Economy. All this topics are very good explained and are understandable for everyone; users can ask their questions on Facebook and receive answers or entire articles published on the Blog about their favorite topics.

Unfortunately BNL EduCare is not so well promoted as BNL People: giving to customers the opportunity to understand the rules of our strange “Economical World” must be the first effort for creating a new relationship between Bank Institution and Customer based on trust and transparence.

In a scale from 1 to 10 I’ll rank BNL people in the 5th place: the general idea is very good and the project is interesting but the realization is wrong, confused and sometimes ambiguous, for me is not good for customer engagement purposes and financial products that will be promoted with this initiative don’t will inspire more confidence than the past, so the target was not reached.

The Bank of the Next door still not exists, and all the bad consideration that banks have today in Italy it’s hard to change with confused project as BNL People.

More on the Author: Vincenzo (Spain)
Vincenzo is a 24 years old italian who studied Communication and Journalism.  He is very active on Facebook,’Tuenti’ (a spanish social network) and ‘’ (a new social network).  He has his own blog and he is also blogging for the International Students Association of ESN Santiago de Compostela.  Vincenzo currently lives in Spain.

Have you tried ‘BNL People’?  Do you share the same views as Vincenzo?  Do you even expect or want your bank to be that ‘bank next door’?

Join the conversation here or on our Facebook page.

What do you think?

Written by a Real Customer

The Visible Banking Team uses this account to post articles from real banking or insurance customers. No social media gurus. Just real customers who share an honest and transparent feedback (positive or negative).

The Social Advisor - Social Media For Financial Advisors

The Social Media Formula For A Successful Investment Management Business?

Citi Innovation Challenge Will Excite at Education Nation

Citi Innovation Challenge 2.0: $100,000 For Winning Young US Innovator