Twitter and other forms of social media represent many things to banks: promotional opportunity; productivity drain; reputation enhancer (or detractor); and security risk.
We’ve presented stories about promotional usage in past Community Banking columns. Regarding employee use of social media at work, we recently asked Aspirin prescribers: “Has your bank had to set rules on how, when, and if employees represent themselves as bank employees online?”
Said a Kansas banker: “They are only allowed access to limited internet services, as that is not the reason that they are at work. We have an IT Social Engineering audit performed by an outside entity who digs a bit deeper into this issue as well, which helps us keep track of abuses.”
An Illinois banker answered: “Our policy states that an employee cannot use his or her connection with the bank on internet sites or in other communications unless it is pre-approved by senior management.”
Connecticut banker and frequent prescriber Rheo Brouillard, president and CEO at Savings Institute Bank and Trust, Willimantic, said the $864.3 million-asset bank had not yet devised a specific policy on the posting of items on any of the social networking sites.
“But we are not addressing the social networking questions,” said Brouillard. “Just this week, we had an employee post a photo of their ‘beautiful workstation’ on their Facebook page, complete with a good view of the technology platform that we use and a picture on their PC screen of the solitaire game they were playing.”
Added the Connecticut banker: “Both are violations of our code of conduct policies—taking pictures and playing games.”
Social media can mean security troubles, as well. A recent white paper from McAfee Inc., 2010 Threat Predictions, forecast that Facebook and Twitter will be “platforms of choice” for emerging threats. Read more about this in Compliance Clinic, p. 27.
Regarding reputation issues, read the following exchange Aspirin facilitated for a reader:
A Kentucky community bank marketer writes: “We are considering using Twitter for our bank. However, we do have one concern. What is the best way to handle negative customer feedback?”
Jeffrey Pilcher, CEO, The Financial Brand and ICONiQ. (See his article on Twitter risks in this month’s “Compliance Clinic,” p. 27.)
Of course, the best way to keep negative comments out of Twitter would be to provide excellent service consistently.
When a financial institution runs into a customer who may have a reasonable issue and a seemingly rationale demeanor, which would generally surface first on their Twitter page, not the bank’s, I recommend the financial institution reach out and try to discuss the matter over the phone or in-person.
Example: “@grumpybear Sorry to hear about your situation. Please DM me and I’ll have someone contact you right away.” [Editor’s Note: DM is “Direct Message,” a person-to-person form of “tweeting.”]
Quite often, the bank’s customer feels the relationship has been seriously damaged, so it’s a good idea to migrate the conversation from an online channel like Twitter to something more personal, like a phone call. Not only does this make the customer feel important and valuable, they are much more likely to sense your sincerity. This also helps keep the dirty laundry off the web (permanent, searchable, potentially viral). Furthermore, if your only public response is contrite and conciliatory, it will look like you took the high road, no matter what the situation may involve.
Fortunately for many community banks—or unfortunately, depending on your perspective—no one on Twitter is likely talking about them. If someone were to say anything, only that person’s followers would see it. Most people only have 25-100 followers, so the reach and impact would usually be minimal.
Of course, one of those 25 people could hear what that person says about an institution and then “retweet” it, and so on...
The electronic version of this article available at: http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/sb/ababj0110/index.php?startid=10