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SCHWAB: A CLOSER LOOK

Even with some of these hurdles, Schwab is among the firms that have embraced social media care. It recognized that people want to be served in the media they use, and today, that means less old-fashioned face-to-face interaction and more e-care.

Tiles, who drives Schwab's social care, says, “Most customers feel good about the service experience: They use social media as the first dialogue.” She goes on to explain, “We engage or follow up with a more personal approach. There's no question we increasingly find investors on social media and wanting their questions answered there.”

Schwab views social care as instrumental in three ways:

1. Reaching clients where they are.

2. Increasing loyalty.

3. Supporting the brand and reputation.

“The reputation benefits extend not just to the person you're helping, but to everyone they're connected with,” says Tiles. She adds that companies that avoid servicing their clients online face a big risk: “People are saying things about your brand, whether or not you're there to respond.” Most of the time, just acknowledging an issue can lead to its resolution. For example, if someone says, “Why did you send me all this paper?” the company can reply, “We're sorry, but we do it for security reasons.” Customers, Tiles says, often are grateful to hear there's a reason for a certain company practice.

Financial professionals can take away a number of lessons from Schwab's customer care program, from staffing the team to dealing with incendiary comments in the social sphere. Let's take a look at how it works:

Internal Staffing and Structure – Schwab's social care team features five to six trained customer service people who take on the social media duty. While watching social traffic, they keep an eye on Twitter and review comments about the brand that call for a response. “There's a group e-mail and whomever's on duty gets back to me – and they're fast,” Tiles says.

Corporate versus Customer Service Accounts – One of the social care issues currently under debate in the industry is whether a firm should have separate social media accounts for corporate branding and client servicing. Although the trend seems to be to merge the two, for now Schwab uses separate Twitter accounts that allow them to keep true customer service issues separate from the broader Schwab universe (see Figure 28.5):

Schwab's Corporate Twitter Account ©charlesschwab and Service Account @schwabservice

FIGURE 28.5 Schwab's Corporate Twitter Account ©charlesschwab and Service Account @schwabservice

■ @schwabservice–Used either to thank people for a comment or to reach out to offer further assistance. For example: “I'd like to help you. Please follow me and I'll help you through private channels like DM.”

■ @charlesschwab.com–Used for corporate-level communications and updates, such as news, events, and educational content.

Types of Service Issues – Depending on the breadth of a firm's business, the issues that emerge on social care can truly run the gamut. For Schwab, they include:

Products and Services – With the firm's reach into banking, brokerage, and advisory services, questions can be broad–everything from rebates of ATM fees to alternatives for investing cash.

Technical – These include everything from problems logging in and password resets to customers struggling to make a deposit with their phone.

Brand-Related – These include comments about the brand, both good and bad, and require that the team set some parameters about what should and should not be addressed online.

Addressing Inflammatory and Other Comments – Responding to inflammatory comments requires an entirely different level of response. In fact, Schwab has identified issues or situations requiring special outreach. In choosing how and whether to respond, the Schwab team asks a few key questions:

■ Is there information that needs to be corrected?

■ Is it important for our community to see us responding, even if it's an apology for an inconvenience?

■ Is it inflammatory? These comments tend to appear on Twitter more than any other channel, and the firm generally opts not to address them: “We try to have reasonable exchanges with reasonable people.”

Still, “at the end of the day, it all comes down to good judgment,” says Tiles.

 
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