Changing Attitudes to Facebook

With hundreds of millions of users accessing the site on a daily basis, it’s almost hard to remember a time before, or without, Facebook.  The world’s most popular social networking service is now visited by an estimated 1.06 billion users per month to organize and document their lives and keep in touch with friends.  Despite recent reports that popularity in its biggest markets has peaked due to competition from the likes of Instagram and Path, there’s no denying Facebook’s power or reach.

Since the company was floated on the stock market on 1st February 2012, users will have noticed a more concerted effort to monetize the site through advertising.  Suggested likes now come from commercial outfits and big corporations, such as banks.

The upshot of this is that large, once faceless corporations are now able to engage with their customers on a more personal level, and users are becoming more receptive to this form of engagement.  After all, would you have imagined ten years ago that you would be ‘friends’ with your bank? Or that you would follow what they’re up to? Or even that you would publicly confess to ‘liking’ them?

The traditional customer service model – of the customer as a downtrodden David and the bank as an all-powerful Goliath – tended to leave customers feeling alienated by their banks.  Many felt as if banks’ levels of service were dictated from the top by an anonymous voice that didn’t speak their language and paid little attention to providing anything that resembled customer satisfaction.

Well, a new report from first direct – you can view it at– suggests that social media is going some way to dispelling this view and is helping to cultivate a new, more positive relationship between financial institutions and its customers; one that is based on trust.

Banks have recognized that the top-down, one-size-fits-all approach to customer service is antiquated and are now engaging with their customers on a more human level, using a language and tone of voice that is less authoritarian and more like an accommodating partner.

first direct, an online and telephone-based bank with no physical branches, prides itself on its strong customer service, award-winning products and cutting edge innovation, and it utilizes social media to help get this message across.  By developing a brand voice that is consistent across different channels and flexible enough to adapt to each customer’s needs, it has come up with something truly progressive.  The bank currently has nearly 27,000 members in its Facebook group, which it engages with through timely updates and transparent responses.

Banks are also doing something that they have shied away from the in the past: willingly accepting blame for wrongdoings and apologizing for their shortcomings.   Customers have always had a gripe with the de facto infallibility that banks seemed to have and the public forum of Facebook seems to be the right platform for holding your bank to account.  In this sense it is empowering bank users to affect change.

As a result, banks have had to respond by listening closely to their customers and taking their concerns more seriously.  Now that their name is being held to account in a public forum banks are making more of an effort to satisfy the demands of their customers, which can only be a good thing.



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