Tesco Bank launches ‘social network’ Your Community
It’s been done with little fanfare, but Tesco Bank’s ‘Total Community Platform’, Your Community, was actually launched in the middle of last year, as we noted in our Internet Banking Dashboard in September 2015. It’s now reaching more than 7000 people.
With the aim of increasing transparency and boosting consumer confidence, the ‘social’ platform is essentially a chatroom, where users can post questions and answer questions from other people. Tesco employees can and do respond as frequently as possible, and there is also a private messaging function for more sensitive queries. Anyone can contribute; registering gives you greater access and lets you ‘personalize your community experience’.
There is also a blog and FAQs section, all in addition to the help and guidance offered in other parts of the Tesco Bank website.
The online forum approach to customer support brings many benefits to brands, such as the potential to reduce costs, increased customer retention and engagement with the brand, and as a marketing channel for new products and services.
For financial services in particular, it represents a more friendly approach, although it does mean overcoming the challenge of how best to ‘advise’ people on financial products through more informal channels.
“We’ve taken quite a conservative approach to it,” Manila Mclean, Tesco Bank’s head of digital marketing, told The Drum. “Less heavily regulated industries have been doing [social media] for years but the more heavily regulated ones are just starting to play with it now. Traditionally, there’s been a nervousness and a bit of ‘what can we say’, especially in finance where it could appear as giving advice if a customer is asking about a product.”
A huge benefit, for Tesco and other brands with online communities, is feedback on product development. By monitoring the most popular topics in the Community, Tesco Bank has been able to see what customers really want – meaning, for example, that it moved the launch of Apple Pay up its priority list.
High levels of engagement come via ‘point scoring’ for helpful answers. According to The Drum, “Tesco claims brand advocates have swiftly emerged thanks to the “gamification” element where, much like Reddit, frequent contributors earn points. One user has become so prolific on the site that Tesco works with him to find out which elements are proving successful.”
Heena Baig, analyst at Mapa Research, commented: “Interestingly, forums are proving more popular as support channels at the same time as private messaging apps such as Facebook and WhatsApp are also becoming popular, showing that banks – and companies in other industries – are really starting to recognise the importance of using different channels in different ways, to enhance the user experience.”
“As competition gets fiercer, we believe banks will differentiate themselves more and more in the ways they support the customer digitally, and creating a sense of community among customers as Tesco Bank has done is a great example of that.”