Banks generally, in Oman too, are not open to social media, that’s a fact. There seem to be the same initial fears that ATMs, internet and mobile banking created: security, reputation and control.
Everybody is on social media especially generations Y and Z (born in the mid-1980's and later). Generations Y and Z have strong preference for communicating electronically and do much of their banking online, rather than walking into a branch. Knowing that the majority of the population is very young shouldn’t local banks be on social media too? Shouldn’t they find a secure way to interact, provide a higher level of customer service and be able to improve their reputation?
Facebook, blogs, forums and the likes should be banks’ preferred communication channels as the youth seeks more in-depth financial advice, due to higher amounts of debt and unemployment, and guidance on mortgages and investments.
So are banks missing a great opportunity by not being there? Yes. I can think of several reasons, except the obvious ones such as promoting a new product/service, job opportunities, etc, why banks should be on social media and bring new meaning to customer centricity.
Forging new connections: banks can use a social platform wisely to generate immediate and impactful results on social customers, many of whom use social media as an "operating system" for their work and social lives. For instance, wouldn’t it be useful to have a live chat, in a secure way, with your personal banker while you’re comfortably sitting on your couch? I’d love that.
Social business is a pivotal outlet for building communities: selling banking products and services can be understandably complex. However, building communities around products and services opens up a new way for consumers to inquire, engage and share material. Wouldn’t it be great if a bank had an online forum totally dedicated to banking where everyone shared ideas, opinion, and experiences and learn the latest trends, products and services from the bank but mainly from each other?
Product research and education: Whether you're crowd-sourcing to find out what customers think of your services, or using social media to encourage customers to develop new products, social networks provide a channel to solicit ideas and input. In fact, social customers expect to be able to input ideas, rate experiences and debate ideas. How about having a blog completely dedicated to educating, motivating and empowering students to make the best of the money they earn and do more with the money they spend? Helping them learn the differences between needs, wants, and wishes? Or simply how to buy smart.
I could go on; the point though is that I can see big potential for banks in establishing relationships that can result in long-term customer loyalty, by satisfying these groups’ needs through education and targeted services while, at the same time, reinforcing the brand’s objectives.
Generations Y and Z don’t want their bank neither to be a Facebook friend nor to be ‘cool’; all they want is to be there for them.
Why do you think banks are not embracing social media? Is it because of regulations/legalities? Is it because they don’t know how? Is it because they would need to have a proper customer service department? Or is it because they don’t act in a transparent way?