First Direct Bank leads the way with customer service via Twitter

First Direct launched their dedicated customer service Twitter account, @firstdirecthelp, on January 16th 2012, having previously just used Twitter as a PR tool via their @firstdirect account. Now they are a few weeks in I thought I’d do some analysis to see how it is being used, both by First Direct and its customers.

A recent report published by Javelin Strategy & Research looked at the Twitter customer service efforts of the biggest banks in America; Bank of America, Wells Fargo & Citigroup (Chase was excluded because they aren’t active on Twitter). The report concluded that Twitter was presenting a real challenge for these banks, with non of them doing a particularly good job of resolving complaints. Due to a combination of concerns over privacy or lack of knowledge by the team staffing the Twitter account, the banks in question were often just responding to the customers question with a canned tweet along the lines of  ’please call our customer services team on xxx xxxx’ and thus not really helping. The report sites that, Citi did the best job responding to customers via Twitter. They provided direct answers and successfully resolved customers issues using just tweets alone 36% of the time. Wells Fargo and Bank of America lagged far behind, with 11% and 3% resolution rates respectively.

From looking at @FirstDirectHelp, they would seem to be fairing much better and are genuinely resolving 90%+ of the queries raised there and then. This is in large part a result of the fact that customers clearly understand the sorts of questions it makes sense to ask via Twitter, most of them are general queries rather than personal account specific questions so don’t raise privacy concerns. Also the agents manning the Twitter account are clearly equipped with a broad knowledge of the banks services.

There are only a couple of occasions where First Direct resort to asking customers to contact them via a different channel, using responses like:

@clairecircuit can you please email us at with your name and postcode and we’ll call you to try and help ^MT

@jameztaylor the best people to speak to would be our customer service team – 08 456 100 100 ^DR

Looking at the tweets in more detail, out of the 77 Tweets at the time of writing, approx 31 are answering queries raised and on only two occasions are customers referred elsewhere.

The most commonly asked questions being:

- When are you launching contactless debit/credit cards (asked by 4 people)
- Why can’t I use your Internet Banking service on my Mac/when are you launching Mac version (asked by 3 people)
- When are you launching an Android version of your Internet Banking App (asked by 3 people)
- When are you launching an dedicated iPAD version of your Internet Banking App (asked by 2 people)
- Do I need to tell you I’m going abroad (asked by 2 people)
- Do you plan on implementing SecureKey as per HSBC (asked by 2 people)

There are the usual jokers, with comments like:

- Can you help, I have a cold
- My bank balance always seems low, can you help

and there are quiet a few just saying welcome to twitter, glad you’re on here, you’re a great bank etc.

Overall I would say the response and feedback First Direct is receiving from it’s customers is overwhelmingly positive. They are also scanning their PR Twitter account for service queries and responding.

Going forward it will be interesting to see how First Direct tie all of their social media activity together, utilise the data/learning’s, and develop their strategy. The questions raised via Twitter are similar in nature to the things they learn via their crowd sourcing activities with First Direct Labs and, as I mentioned in an earlier article, I would like to see them make their recommend a friend process social (not least because it’s so obvious!). So far, customer service via Twitter looks like a positive move for First Direct and one for the other banks to keep an eye on as it looks like the benchmark has been set!

First Direct Help on Twitter

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