Customer Service on Twitter - Proactive or Reactive?

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14 July 2009
Jacob Jegher
A flurry of banks have joined Twitter and setup their presence in an effort to communicate with customers, market products and solve customer service issues (see my blog entry on What Banks Can Do With Twitter). It's a great idea and has made many customers quite happy, particularly if they get an instant response to a problem they are encountering. As Twitter evolves and more people join the fray, a new type of user has emerged - the anti bank. A slew of Twitter users have emerged with the sole purpose of tweeting about how much they dislike their bank. I have noticed a growing trend of twitter user names comprised of "bank name" followed by the word "sucks." I did a quick search to test my hypothesis and was quite surprised at how many users popped up with this naming convention. I found anti-bank users for BofA, Wachovia, Wells, SunTrust, Chase, TD Bank, etc. It appears to apply to credit unions as well (e.g. Navy Federal). Many of these have just a few followers, while others have a large following. For example, @BankOAmericaSux has over 1,200 followers! The goal of this post is not to single out these banks, but rather to point them to what they should do:
  • Banks need to monitor for new anti-bank Twitter Users. More anti-bank users will pop up and their follower base will grow. It is important for banks to manage their brand and make sure their company name is being used appropriately. Banks also need to watch for username squatters who will try to social engineer credentials from unsuspecting customers (see my post, Social Networks Are Not Secure!)
  • Banks should reach out to followers of anti-bank Twitter users. It's one thing to be proactive when dealing with a customer who approaches you on Twitter, it's another to go after those who are expressing and publicizing their problems. Banks need to reach out to these people and solve their issues before they draw too much negative attention to themselves or get into a "United Breaks Guitars" situation.

It's impossible to make everyone happy, but if a bank has established a Twitter presence they need to understand and react to these types of situations.


  • Electronic picketing has certainly become a top issue for public relations teams. At what point to organizations decide to ignore or legitimize the picketer(s) with a response? It's a tough balancing act. Some banks suck. Some credit unions suck. That said, they don't all suck. And they aren't all being accurately represented by the few, loud voices that are drawing negative attention to them. The real challenge for organizations is to create adequate Twitter/Social Media policies that protect their reputations, without being victim to populous thuggery.

  • Don't fall for the follower trap. Just as there are spam (fake) email addresses, there are spam twitter accounts, and many of them follow each other to boost their follower count.

    There are services that, for a price, will load up your twitter account with thousands of followers, and it's a safe bet most of those will not be real people.

    Don't misunderstand, there are millions of legitimate accounts in Twitter, but just don't go blindly trying to "reach out" to spam accounts whose only purpose is to boost follower counts.

  • [...] Customer Service on Twitter – Proactive or Reactive? [...]

Insight details

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Asia-Pacific, EMEA, LATAM, North America