UK banks failing to engage with customers on social media

Retail banks in the UK are not engaged with customers using social media networks, where the use of online, branches and call centres are more popular for customer service.

According to new research released by BT and Avaya, 69 percent of the 700 customers surveyed in the UK would not use Twitter, Google Plus or Facebook to interact with a retail bank’s customer service team.

The UK is more reluctant than all of the other countries surveyed, with 62 percent of USA respondents indicating the same; 64 percent in Germany; and 47 percent in Spain.

Only 17 percent of UK customers indicated that they were using all of these sites all the time to interact with banks.

Customers appear to still favour a more traditional approach to banking, despite an increase in digital channels, where 77 percent indicated that they used their banking branch the most in the past twelve months; followed by 60 percent citing the internet; and 42 percent phoning a call centre.

However, at a roundtable this week to discuss the results, attendees indicated that the lack of engagement by consumers on social networks may be due to banks not offering social networking services, due to heavy regulation and concern around making mistakes publicly.

“My understanding is that the banks are using social media, but they are doing it in a very discreet, behind closed doors way,” said Patricia Easterbrook, director of retail banking, British Bankers’ Association.

“They are listening, but there is a lot of sensitivity about getting it right,” she added.

Stephen Satchwell, client partner for BT Global Services, Global Banking and Financial Markets, agreed with Easterbrook and said that using social media at a bank isn’t an easy thing to do.

“The financial services industry is very risk averse because of stringent regulation. Most social media accounts are locked down for people working for these banks anyway,” he said.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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