Interview with Mark Mullen, first direct’s CEO, on Social Media in Banking (Part 1)

Interview Part 1 – Interview Part 2

Since pretty much the launch of the Visible Banking blog back in February 2007, I’ve been following first direct’s activity in the social media space.

I believe my first video comments on the most recommended UK bank was about first direct interactive (July 2007).

First direct is unarguably the most experimental UK bank in the social media space, especially in terms of PR and Brand.  I must admit I’ve always wanted more from first direct:

* more on the social customer care (Lloyds TSB has taken the lead on twitter), and
* more on Customer Generated Content (CGC) and the Voice of the Customer (VOC).

On the later, first direct recently launched the first crowdsourcing experiment of its kind in the UK banking industry, first direct Lab, where first direct invites their customers to share their comments, their suggestions, and confirm their expectations in a very public and transparent way.

Kudos to Natalie Cowen – Head of Brand and Communications and Paul Say – former Head of Marketing and their teams for making it happen!

On Monday 3rd October I had the pleasure to meet and interview Mark Mullen, first direct’s new CEO.  A big thank you to Amanda Brown – PR Manager for facilitating this meeting.

Now I will let you find out how much info I gathered on the topic of social customer care…

Mark is surely a great replacement to Matt Colebrook: Mark is very familiar with first direct: indeed, he used to be Head of Marketing until mid 2009.  During his spell as Head of Marketing, Mark was instrumental in designing and implementing first direct’s social media strategy.Back in March 2009, Mark was quoted saying: “The use of online PR and social media reflects the growing importance of the internet, particularly in peer to peer recommendation and word of mouth.  Social media is a perfect medium for first direct, our customers are technology savvy, heavy online users and keen to embrace new ways of communication.”
Promising, isn’t it? ;)Mark is a great guy with an extensive experience of the industry and a key focus on people (customers and employees).  No wonder I found our meeting inspiring.  I’ve only spent 45 minutes with him, but I found Mark very approachable, fun and frank.  And the man has taste!  I was delighted to find out that we were both big fans of Aaron Sorkin‘s work: ‘the Social Network‘ and ‘the West Wing‘ are some of his most famous achievements on the big and the small screens.  Mark advised me to watch ‘Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip‘, any fans of that series out there?Please note that Mark’s official first day at the helm of the most loved bank in the UK was on 1st September 2011.Video Interview with Mark Mullen, first direct’s CEO (Part 1)
This interview is available on the Visible Banking YouTube Channel.

* Intro – welcome back to the UK
* Quote from March 2009 (00:39)
* What is your vision of social media in banking? (01:27)
* Voice of the Customer & Products / Services Reviews (03:35)
* How challenging is it to deal with negative feedback? (06:01)
* Responding vs acknowledging customer comments (07:28)
* Crowdsourcing and outsourcing value added IT development (08:55)
* Involving customers will be more and more strategic (09:45)
* Magical (broader) conversations & content strategy (topics outside banking)  (11:45)
* Other banks can’t do it because they are not good enough at their core competence (13:46)

What do you think?

Written by Christophe Langlois

Based in London for almost a decade, Christophe is an entertaining fintech marketing keynote speaker and a trusted advisor to the global financial services industry on the topics of digital marketing, innovation and B2B social media.

Christophe has contributed to over 140 events in 18 countries.

Currently, Christophe is advising a number of fintech startups on marketing and growth hacking and he is the Chief Marketing Officer of The Fintech Power 50, an exclusive annual programme helping fintech scale-ups to accelerate their growth globally.

Christophe's views on are his own.

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