/ Money, Technology

Does social media have a role in high street banking?

Citi's @AskCiti Twitter account

US banking giant Citi has taken its stateside Twitter presence one step further, launching a new account to deal with customer complaints. Could the UK banking sector benefit from such social media customer service?

Or maybe you think that any banks using social networks is just a cynical ploy, rather than a genuine attempt to improve customer service?

Citi, which owns internet bank Egg in the UK, is making a brave move with its @AskCiti Twitter account.

Any bank that puts its head above the parapet and encourages public complaints in the current climate deserves praise. So maybe UK banks could take a leaf out of Citi’s book?

Tweeting banks good news for all?

An increased use of social media by banks could be a win-win. We could hopefully get a faster response by ‘direct messaging’ a dedicated Twitter account, cutting out frustrating time spent hanging on the phone, waiting for the postman or being fobbed off in-branch.

Meanwhile, banks are seen to care, can increase their own brand awareness and, most importantly, are better able to keep their customers happy more quickly.

Banks aren’t stupid. An increased use of social media will partly be used to keep down their formal complaint figures. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – if the bank sorts out your query on first contact, there’d be no need to complain in the first place.

And dealing with complaints via Twitter should not deny us the right to take our complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). This is because, in most cases, you can take your case to the FOS eight weeks after you first complain to your bank.

Are 140 characters enough?

In the end, how you complain to your bank in the first instance isn’t important – whether it’s by phone, in writing, or theoretically, through Twitter.

Then again, putting a complaint into 140 characters isn’t going to be easy as you’ll need to give the bank enough information to investigate your problem. Citi seems to be taking a sensible middle-ground by encouraging its customers to direct message it with a convenient time to be called on the phone.

From the customer’s perspective, social media can offer a quick (and public) way of getting an answer. And if your 500 Twitter followers can see you complaining, it’s in a company’s best interests to fix your problem fast.

Citi’s move is to be welcomed and I look forward to the initiative transferring across the pond so we too can have an extra route to fix our banking problems in the UK.

In the meantime, why not follow us instead – @WhichMoney, @WhichConvo and me @MartynSaville. That wasn’t subtle at all.

John McColgan says:
16 January 2011

I’d like to share a warning with fellow members of Which? Please telephone RBS Credit Card Call Centre and check with them the APR% they are charging you on your RBS Credit Card. Why should you telephone surely you can find the APR% on your paper statement or online. Well no, you can’t. I was horrified to find out they were charging me 23.9% (they phoned me back 20 mins later to advise me it was actually ONLY 21.66%). Having checked with the 3 credit reference agencies I have found I am a good “risk” and this is confirmed by Saga (AIB) issuing me with a new card account at an APR of 11.9%. CHECK YOUR ACCOUNTS

LiLo says:
7 May 2011

Amex for me is the best example of servicing via social media. they are an American company but they do it brilliantly in the UK too. if only UK banks learned from this example…

Mark Shaw says:
4 March 2012

great to see Citi Bank having a Twitter presence.. No reason at all that all banks should not have a dedicated Twitter channel to deal with customer issues etc… In fact we will be publishing the engagementIndex scores on the banking sector tomorrow 5th March… so it will be interesting to see how they faired in general and in relation to the other Banks

We have already published engagementIndex scores for UK Supermarkets, Utilities, and Mobile Operators.. engagementIndex is the 1st customer care score for Twitter



Mark Shaw