For the past few months we have been participating in conversations on Twitter. Yes indeed, we are now actively Tweeting at the bank. The reality in today’s world is that banks can no longer just rely on conventional methods of interacting with customers via branches, ATMs, Online Banking, telephone calls and emails, to meet the existing business needs.
We’ve learnt in a short space of time that Twitter aids the extension of our ethos of helpfulness at FNB. It’s also serving a vital market research function as it provides almost instant feedback on what customers are thinking and what kind of problems they are experiencing. When we first started people were a little unnerved to find that the bank, through our on-line persona of RB Jacobs, was taking a keen interest in their tweets about FNB. When they were complaining about a service problem, this sense of unease was quickly replaced with relief that we were resolving problems and delivering service on a platform that has not really played this of role in the past.
We have learned to respond promptly, (within minutes actually) with solutions to problems. It’s amazing to watch real time problems be managed and for the most part resolved positively and this has started to change the way in which we handle customer complaints inside the bank.
So who is RB Jacobs? There’s been some speculation on Twitter about who RB Jacobs is? I guess people really want to be able to pin him/her down to a personality. The reality is RB Jacobs is in fact a fictional moniker created by FNB when it was the first bank to launch credit cards (a Barclaycard) in South Africa in 1969. Ever since then and to this day, FNB cards appearing in adverts have the embossed account holder name ‘RB Jacobs’. We’re a large organisation and to resolve the complaints and queries we receive on Twitter we have to work with teams of people. RB Jacobs is the sum of a whole lot of parts in the bank.
We’ve found the majority of Tweets are valid and we prioritise our response to them. However from time to time we field some nasty and reckless comments on Twitter too and you have to retain a sense of humour and assess which comments should be escalated and what to leave. I’m often amused by the kind of dialogue that takes place on Twitter because it is so uninhibited – the real power of the web. Twitter in South Africa is currently an exclusive environment, because it’s reserved for those who have Internet connectivity via a PC or via a sophisticated mobile phone. Importantly, this space is dominated by highly connected and influential people, whose Tweets can damage or add value to a company’s reputation. A day doesn't go by now without commentary on Twitter and its influence on marketing strategies. Undoubtedly, Twitter is providing us with an invaluable insight into the conversations South African consumers are having and we are deriving great benefit and insight by participating of this community in a helpful and genuine way.