Companies of all types are turning to social media — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and beyond — as well as tracking cookies for clues about customers’ behavior, identity, preferences, habits and “life events.”
Banks are no exception. They’re not inclined to talk about it, but some are experimenting with mapping customer data to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook so they can “listen” to their customers’ conversations on these sites. And some use tracking cookies (which record a customer’s website activity even after the customer has left the company’s site and report them back to a company’s database) to monitor online banking clients’ website travels.
Yet banks, unlike the e-book sellers, real estate agents or retailers doing the same things, have a special mandate around privacy and security because they are trusted custodians of their customers’ delicate and personal financial matters. Mining customers’ social posts and website activity brings them into an ethical grey area.
With financial institutions increasingly interested in understanding how they can expand their use of data in understanding customer and member needs, banking customers’ wishes need to be top-of-mind. Banks and credit unions need to be mindful that increased customer insight through data analytics can be a double-edged sword. While it can be beneficial for both banking customers and FIs as a way to better understand customer wants and behaviors to be able to serve them better, it can also create customer dissatisfaction if done improperly. For most consumers, an ability to opt-in is an important first (and critical) step in considering when (and whether) they wish to share personal information with their financial institution(s). From there, a potentially trusting relationship can be built over time.
Overview by Ed O’ Brien, Director, Banking Channels Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group
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