At First National Bank (FNB), we firmly believe that innovation is central to securing our future success. Constant innovation ensures that we remain aligned to the changing needs of our customers and enables us to be better positioned to respond to emerging changes in the business environment.
Social media is a critical part of FNB’s strategy. It allows us to build and reinforce ongoing relationships with both existing and potential customers right across the business: marketing uses social media to drive awareness, deliver valuable information and enable discovery; customer support leverages social channels to enhance education, solicit feedback and respond to complaints; our sales departments increasingly look to social media to support our customer acquisition strategies.
Moreover, social media allows our bank to reinforce our core brand value of helping our customers achieve success and positions our organization as Africa’s most approachable, trustworthy and technologically-savvy retail bank.
To succeed in this space, we recognized early on that our social media strategy needed to grow organically. Indeed, as social network communities and platforms evolve, so too must our approach towards managing them. We also decided that our actions had to be primarily driven by the needs and demands of our communities and customers rather than our brand or risk managers.
For FNB, developing a consistent social media ‘persona’ has been key to our success. We created an online personality called RBJacobs that has quickly become a highly credible and approachable representation of our band (you can find him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn). RBJacobs allows our social media team to maintain a single style and tone of voice that has now become synonymous with FNB’s social media presence.
Of course, there have also been a number of challenges. For one, creating the capability to rapidly and proactively respond to customer needs with relevant and valuable content has required us to instill behavioral change within our organization, particularly in all business areas where customer support is required.
We have also faced significant challenges in developing the processes and tools that enable disparate parts of our organization to create, access and share a single view of our customers. And while this has required our organization to evolve our internal processes and approaches, it has also delivered unprecedented dividends in customer acquisition, retention and service.
Today, FNB’s social media presence provides our customers with an ‘always on’ channel that is able to meet most customer needs across marketing, sales and support. As a result, we now enjoy overwhelmingly positive online consumer sentiment that far outstrips any other financial services provider in South Africa. What is more, our program has converted thousands of once passive consumers into a legion of socially connected and active brand ambassadors for FNB.
Social media has also enabled our organization to collect rich data about our communities and customer segments that – in turn – has allowed us to develop more effective communications and marketing strategies, valuable process improvements and targeted product development that meets the future needs of our key customer segments.
I am proud of our pioneering approach to social media and am confident that our program will continue to deliver competitive advantage for our organization for many years to come. In fact, I am so convinced about the benefits of social media that I’ve personally been tweeting about it since July 2009 (@MichaelJordaan). I encourage you to add both RBJacobs’ feed and my own to follow FNB’s progress in social media.
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.