The Customer Voice – are you listening?

I once overheard a conversation among four teenage girls that were discussing what bank they should select when setting up accounts for depositing their salaries from their first summer jobs. It was really interesting to listen in and understand their criteria when selecting their first banking relationship. As most of you probably guessed, they quickly agreed that the usability of the mobile banking app was the most important criteria. One of the girls had just signed up with Länsförsäkringar and was glad to demonstrate the app to her friends that agreed that it was really neat. The purpose of this blog post is not to promote Länsförsäkringar or for that matter to speculate on the needs of Generation Y. On the contrary, I will argue that financial institutions have to use social media to listen to their customers to better serve them. In my mind, it is not market intelligence to imply that everyone born on the new millennium are narcissists or superficial. I call that prejudices and a roadblock to winning and retaining customers that are telling their friends and you what they think of you, if you care to listen.

Similar to the Academy Award ceremony, there is a lot of anticipation when SKI Svenskt Kvalitetsindex publish their annual reports on the customer satisfaction index in the banking and insurance industry. It is evident that the financial service sector appreciate the reports on how the customers rank them on different attributes. But in my experience, it is not the absolute level nor the development of the index that attracts the most interest from the industry but the remarks from SKI based on statements from the customers that participated in the survey. It is quite common when I meet contacts in organizations that were mentioned in the latest report that they quote the report when they tell me about their initiatives for increased customer centricity. And I have experienced a similar bias to client testimonials versus quantified business cases when I have presented my findings from pre-studies to them. So, it is clear to me that the financial services sector is very interested in the customer voice but I cannot understand why so many financial institutions ignore social media as a channel for listening to the voice of the customer.

As depicted in the table below, social media has several benefits to the traditional channels (focus groups, customer surveys and customer services) and 3rd party surveys like the customer satisfaction index Svenskt kvalitetsindex.

Traditional Channels 3:rd party surveys Social Media

REACH

Modest. Limited to customers. Rarely feedback except formal compliants Good coverage in surveys to ensure statistical relevance Widest reach of all channels

BIAS

Bias to caring customers that file complaints. Most don’t Minor. Good demographic coverage but possible bias in non-respondents Some bias. Miss feedback from lurkers and non-users of social media.

COMPLETENESS

Explanations to feedback No explanation to customer satisfaction scores Candid explanations to sentiments.

LATENCY

Feedback may be delayed Delayed feedback Immediate feedback

But let me be clear on that I do not argue that social media should replace other channels for getting customer feedback. On the contrary, I share the view of Accenture that the channels complement each other and they should be leveraged in conjunction to better identify new market opportunities, monitor the effect of marketing campaigns and get prompt reputation alerts. I have not seen any major traction in the Nordics on listening to the voice of the customers using social media yet. True, most players monitor “their” hashtags and are often swift in responding, but I argue that they have to widen their listening capabilities so that they can cover both a wide and narrow lense on social media to get insights into their competitive position. There are some large international companies in the financial services that realize that they have to actively listen to the voice of the customer to become a truly customer centric organization. Many of them have engaged Accenture to build and run a Social Media Monitoring solution as illustrated below.

As a response to the buoying interest, Accenture now offers it as managed service where they leverage advanced analytics tools and dedicated consultants in India to provide a continuous monitoring service for those that wants to listen to their customers. Do you?

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