At ING DIRECT Canada*, we believe that social media will be a key component of our growth strategy, a critical enabler of our reputation and a vital channel in our efforts to build trust with our customers. That is why we were one of the first banks to develop a social media policy and presence and – today – remain one of the most active social media bank participants in the world.
And while we are clearly evolving rapidly up the social media ‘maturity’ scale, we also remain highly focused on what made social media important in the first place: relationships.
We understand the growing role that social is playing in the lives of our customers and the influence that it has on our markets. As such, we are constantly monitoring social media channels to identify new trends, capture shifting customer preferences and respond to feedback (regardless of whether it comes from our customers or not). And, as a result, we have become much more proactive in the way we communicate with our customers and much more responsive when issues do arise.
Take, for example, our recent experience with an ad campaign that launched earlier this year. The campaign – which was intended to draw upon research insights around stress, anxiety and a general sense of worry as it relates to money in order to help promote retirement savings products – was seen by some viewers as being insensitive to those suffering from mental health issues. Within days, our social channels started to see some chatter. Some came to our Facebook and Twitter pages to complain directly; others simply vented their frustration to friend and family networks.
Within minutes of the first mention, our social media team was on it. All conversations involving our bank and the ad campaign were monitored and assessed; hours later, our CEO was tweeting his comments on the campaign; and – once we made the quick decision to take down the campaign – our team took to social media to communicate the decision to the public and offer apologies.
The feedback on our response has been fantastic. “I don’t like what ING DIRECT did, but I do like how they handled it,” noted one influential blogger approvingly. “This incident and the conduct of ING Canada is an exceptional example of good social engagement,” suggested another. Clearly, our use of social media to respond quickly and effectively to consumer feedback was a success.
Of course, our ability to respond effectively to this fast-moving issue would not have been possible without the support and buy-in of our board and our CEO. For our leadership, social media not only offers opportunity for innovation and improved customer service, it also allows them to directly monitor what people are saying about the bank – unfettered and uncut. Simply put, our executives understand that the risk of not being involved in social media is far greater than the risk of doing it.
Our CEO, Peter Aceto (@CEO_INGDIRECT), has been active on social media for years and frequently hears from – and responds to – customers directly over social media. Indeed, I firmly believe that our success in using social media to interact effectively to our communities is directly related to the support and buy-in of our leadership.
While executive support is certainly key, developing an effective and responsive social media program also required our bank to rethink the way we work together internally to achieve the full benefits of social media. Internal silos needed to be broken down, information needed to be shared across divisions and a single brand needed to reflect all of our different service offerings in the market.
Likely the most illustrative change happened within our physical office. Rather than creating a ‘social team’ that worked between divisions and functions, we brought together all of key internal stakeholders into one ‘open office’ plan.
The results of this one simple yet non-traditional move have been amazing: issues are elevated and managed in real-time with input from across the organization, new ideas gestating in one division are quickly and easily adapted into another, and social media strategies are aligned and integrated to maximize reach and our return on investment.
Based on these early successes – and the passion and encouragement of our bank’s leadership – I am confident that social media will play an increasingly important role in our future growth. Followers and clients can expect to see a range of new products and services come to market based on social platforms.
Simply put, our highly-successful experiences using social media for customer service and complaint response today has opened the door for a world of innovation tomorrow. Clearly, this is a thrilling time to be in banking.
By Mark Nicholson, Head of Digital, Creative & Communications at ING DIRECT Canada
* ING DIRECT Canada is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Bank of Nova Scotia.