But to gain any real value from social networks, banks must dig deeper. Targeted sales pitches, cross selling of services, effective customer support, even applying CRM capabilities (in my opinion, the Holy Grail of social networking for banks) all require significant changes in banks’ technology infrastructure and related processes and controls.
Take customer service for example. When communicating over social networks, customers expect their banks to have a holistic and single view of all of their interactions and accounts. Unfortunately, most banks are structured in silos meaning that a single customer could potentially have data residing within multiple systems and databases – one in the mortgage division, one in retail banking, one in wealth management, and so on.
Integrating all of that data into a single and accessible customer record will not be an easy task for most banks. It will require disparate technology systems to interoperate in real time, sometimes across geographies and distinct technology platforms. In this, ING Group is at a distinct advantage: ever since the launch of ING Direct, we have maintained single customer records in each of our operating countries, putting us in a position to quickly and easily integrate our social networking offerings in each market.
Deploying a CRM system will be much more complicated. Ultimately, social networking enables banks to track key customer information – lifestyle changes, anniversaries, even the general mood of the customer at any given time or day – all of which can be leveraged to deliver more customized and targeted customer interactions. So for example, social networking could alert the bank when a customer gets engaged to be married, opening the door for targeted sales pitches for mortgages, lines of credit or family insurance.
This, however, will require banks to transform the way they collect, analyze and share data across the enterprise. Beyond integrating thousands of data points in real time, the shift to a CRM system will also demand rigorous controls, streamlined processes and effective governance frameworks to ensure that data is being properly managed and secured.
There will also be a number of compartmentalized or discreet projects that will need to be managed. For instance, ING Direct in Canada recently integrated the Facebook API (application programming interface) into their technology environment (becoming, from what I can tell, the first bank to deploy this functionality globally).
Achieving this required our people to rethink many of our security and authentication processes within the bank. Again, ING was fortunate to have pre-existing security mechanisms that enabled us to match Facebook credentials to those held by ING Direct in Canada, meaning we have been able to deploy the system faster and more securely than most.
Of course, the extent of the technology challenge really depends on the aspirations and strategy of each individual bank. But for the ING Group, innovation and value for our customers have always been central to our proposition, making the move to social media a clear necessity for our board, our management, our customers and – importantly – our IT department.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of KPMG International or any KPMG member firm.