Last week I conducted an investigation into how 20 top UK retailers handle social customer service. It was a fascinating insight into the world of Twitter customer care and revealed just how a consumer’s experience can vary from brand to brand.

This week I’m turning my attention to retail banking. 

Earlier today I interviewed First Direct’s senior communications manager Amanda Brown and learnt some best practice tips as well as guidance on what to expect from aiming a Twitter enquiry towards a bank.

Will I experience the same level of personality as I did with non-banking retail brands? Will I have to be taken to a more secure channel? Will the banking industry just be too busy to answer my question?

Let’s find out…

Quick, helpful and personal

Which of the banks responded within 15 minutes, answered my query satisfactorily and added a personal touch?

HSBC – 3 minutes

TSB – 4 minutes

Nationwide – 5 minutes 

Really quick response, although if I’m being really picky it’s not as personable as the other examples here.

M&S Bank - 5 minutes

M&S answered me promptly and asked me what type of account I was referring to, as I had forgotten the information in the original tweet. 

Virgin Money – 9 minutes

First Direct – 12 minutes

NatWest – 12 minutes

Co-operative Bank – 16 minutes

I’m including Co-operative here because it was only one minute over my own benchmark and it was helpful and friendly enough.

Under an hour and spookily similar

These all came in under an hour, which is about the maximum time that I would consider good customer service on Twitter. Do you notice something familiar between these tweets?

Halifax – 41 minutes

Lloyds – 44 minutes

Bank of Scotland – 44 minutes

All roughly sent the same time. All written in the same format. Two of them written by ‘LB’. Is it possible Halifax, Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland are using the same customer service team?

Bottom of the league

Here’s a round-up of the banks that could do better.

Barclays – 1 hour and 2 minutes

Just slipped over the one hour window, but full marks for personalisation and helpfulness nonetheless.

Citi – 1 hour 24 minutes

I love the enthusiasm here, but unfortunately it looks like Citi doesn’t operate a Twitter customer help channel for UK customers and therefore I have to call a helpline.

Santander – 5 minutes

One of the quickest here, but with other banks being able to offer me this information this tweet seemed fairly unhelpful. Perhaps if Santander had thought to @mention NatWest itself then this would’ve been better?

Tesco Bank – 36 minutes (and then some)

Tesco did great in telling me that it has acknowledged my tweet and is looking into it. Without realising it, I had used a specific Tesco Bank 'news' Twitter handle. I was told that somebody from the main account would come to my aid, however as I write this four hours later I have still to hear back.

Sainsbury's Bank

Sainsbury’s Bank seems to be the only UK retail bank that doesn’t operate a customer service channel on Twitter. There is an account for Sainsbury’s Bank but it acts purely for providing press releases and news for journalists.

Any customer enquiry is met with this response…

Statistics

Which banks operate a separate customer service channel from the main Twitter account?

86% (14 out of 16) banks operate a specific customer service channel. Sainsbury’s doesn’t and all of Tesco’s enquiries are done through the main Tesco Twitter account. Although I’ve yet to see a result from this.

Which of these banks publish their opening hours in their profiles?

75% (12 out of 16) publish their opening hours. M%S Bank, Virgin Money and Tesco could all do with making this small change to their profile descriptions.

Which of these banks state that you may be required to use a more secure channel to complete an enquiry?

19% (3 out of 16) state that users may need to adopt a different channel, congratulations to HSBC, M&S Bank and First Direct for being in the minority. Many of the banks however do state that you should never tweet your bank details to them.

What have we learnt?

The most encouraging stat to come out of this entire exercise is that 100% of all the banks I contacted responded within 90 minutes and half of those were under 15 minutes.

The retail banking industry seems to be leading the way with social customer service. Only a handful need to make small changes to their profiles and perhaps one or two could have a touch more personality. 

However for the most part it’s incredibly encouraging to see such great commitment to customer service from one of the more serious sectors on one of the newest platforms.

To learn more about social and all things digital come to our Festival of Marketing event in November. A two day celebration of the modern marketing industry, featuring speakers from brands including LEGO, Tesco, Barclays, FT.com and more.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 29 September, 2014 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Comments (2)

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youno

good twitter stuff

almost 3 years ago

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Rob Lewis

Interesting research. As Halifax, Lloyds and Bank of Scotland are all part of Lloyds Banking Group, it wouldn't be too much of a surprise to find out they're looked after by a single social media team.

almost 3 years ago

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