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.
Pioneering a new frontier
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.
The basics of success
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.
A winning strategy
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.
CEO and Serial Tweeter
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.
By Michael Jordaan, CEO of FNB
||Gareth Jones FNB’s experience shows that social media can be a significant differentiator for smaller, regional banks, particularly in regions where banking infrastructure is thinly spread. Of course, as Michael points out, banks must also be prepared to respond appropriately and rapidly to customer complaints; the downside of tweeting is that missteps can quickly lead to negative coverage in both new and traditional media. This can easily lead to an incident or crisis that brings greater scrutiny from both customers and stakeholders onto the bank’s full range of products, while new media can quickly fan the flames of even the most minor or ill-conceived tweet or view from an executive. |
|| Much like FNB, a growing number of banks are now looking to social media to drive customer acquisition and loyalty. Incorporating social media into product definition, competitive positioning and customer experience management may have a pronounced impact on a bank’s growth trajectory. Viewing social media as an opportunity for real-time discussions and research with customers gives marketers a powerful tool that most banks have yet to take full advantage of. And increasingly, this is focused on the integration of social media into the customer profile, analyzing the data to provide actionable insights and then utilizing these insights to create a truly holistic digital strategy. .|
|| Michael’s perspective demonstrates that – similar to disruptive innovations that led to e-banking and mobile banking – social media in banking will also change the playing field for small and mid size banks. Furthermore, the financial crisis and failure of large financial institutions had a negative impact on the trust of the traditionally loyal customer. Social media played an instrumental role in spreading the good, the bad and the ugly of the financial crisis. Those financial institutions that at that time did not have a social media strategy or understanding of social media clearly were affected the most. So, rather than it being a matter of size, it was a matter of being prepared..|
|| By taking a leadership role in the definition and execution of FNB’s social media strategy, Michael has clearly driven cultural change throughout the bank. I think it is quite telling that he puts the needs of the customer and bank ahead of the risk management team, but – as evidenced by his comments on risk – has allowed risk to also participate in the development of their strategy and procedures. A winning combination in my books. |
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.