The need to have a physical presence across the length and breadth of the country has been long felt by public sector banks, especially to fulfill their role in the country’s economic development. This was the driving force for the establishment of State Bank of India which was followed later by nationalisation of the banks. The 20,000-plus branches of SBI as well as other banks in the country have undoubtedly provided the much-needed impetus for rural development and easy access to banking services to millions of people in the country.
Today, with the increasing momentum for digital banking and other digital financial services, customers have an array of options to choose from. So the big question is how do banks build and maintain relationships with customers, specially when they are not expected to visit the branches as often as the previous generation did?
Social media is the most important channel which could provide the much-required conduit for building customer relationship for banks. As individual customers, most of us are familiar with the use of social media as a mode of communication as well as for relationship building. However, using social media for business or banking is still a novel phenomenon. The huge potential for offering customer solutions, creating brand awareness, expanding customer base and building ongoing personal connect are some of the invaluable advantages that social media strategy could offer for the banks. With fintech companies being able to offer innovative digital value propositions and their ability to develop a better understanding of customer buying processes by engaging with them through social media platforms, traditional banks are beginning to realise the urgency for rethinking their customer relationship strategies. The new format of building connections with customers and being able to address their queries swiftly by following them on social media, stronger and long-lasting relationships are now feasible.
From contests to financial education related content in the form of blogs and videos, some of the banks are moving away from their serious image to acquiring an easily accessible persona. Banks have used the social media platform for rewarding and recognising colleagues and customers who are making impactful changes in the communities specially during the pandemic. Such initiatives would create a positive image for the bank and help in spreading a good feeling within the community they serve. Further, social media presence would enable banks to tap into new data sources and provide insights for how to engage with their customers according to their location, age, gender or other characteristics and make targeted marketing possible. Instead of presenting the dry facts of their products, banks could present human interest stories and case studies which will pave the way for building trust and emotional connect.
Banks could create loyalty programmes and create brand ambassadors who could popularise their offerings on social media. It is not just the potential of social media to enable the customisation of the offerings for individuals, banks could also focus on specific interest groups such as seniors, women or farmers who have their identities on social media platform. Adding to the enormous data that banks already possess, further data through transactions on social media could open up new possibilities not only for product options but also for servicing options as well. While social media is an important channel for building the trust quotient, it is necessary to ensure that customer experience is seamless, whichever channel is used.
The writer is chairperson, Global Talent Track, a corporate training solutions company