Let’s face it. Our extensive usage of cell phones have changed us. We have become information addicts that are always available and constantly toggling between different apps on our cell phones. Naturally, our changed behaviors have changed our expectations on the customer service provided by retail banks. Availability and short response times are not the only requirements any longer. We expect them to support us when we multitask. A report from a company in the telecom industry, that has analyzed the global data traffic (no, it is not NSA 😉 ), indicates that 39% of all cell phone subscribers are multitasking users.
I will argue in this blog post that retail banks have understood this shift to multitasking but that they have overcompensated and leveraged social media as an easy way out to ensure compliance with their Know-Your-Customer policies.
The matrix below summarizes the main customer service channels provided by retail bankers. As you can see, the traditional channels; the branch and the call center agents, are intended for single tasking customers. They give full attention to the customer and his/her needs and expect the same from the customer.
My contacts at insurance companies confirm this shift to multitasking. They explain that many of their customers prefer asynchronous emails to the phone. But the banks are very restrictive with e-mail. To minimize the risks for phishing, they have taught their customers that they will NEVER receive any emails from them. Similarly, they are just as concerned with the identity of the receiver themselves. They have to be certain that they have identified the customer prior to providing sensitive customer data and advisory. That is why a user that wants to send an asynchronous message has to authenticate himself using a digipass or a similar vehicle to send a secure e-mail to the bank.
The banks realize that the authentication step is an awkward threshold to customers that have questions that are not sensitive nor requires advisory. That is probably why they have embraced Facebook as a customer service platform for multitasking customers. All Nordic retail bankers use Facebook and I understand its appeal to them; they engage with the customers on the customer’s turf and they preempt all Know-Your-Customer issues by having the customers to post the questions in public. I think that social media should be a part of the customer service platform to multitasking customers but I do not like the fact that is the only one provided by five out of the eight banks that I browsed. The fact that banks only get 5-10 questions per day on Facebook indicates that I am not the only one that refuse to share my ignorance with everyone at Facebook. A recent report from Gartner indicates that Web Chat is to be the second most prioritized area among the 140 customer service organizations they interviewed. I certainly hope that the Nordic retail bankers will catch on too.