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How US Banks Are Using Twitter For Customer Support

Peter Claridge

In 2009 three of the biggest US banks realized that they needed to get on Twitter and in that time they’ve racked up over 125,000 tweets and 45,000 followers between them. One noticeable absence from Twitter was Chase, but that changed in mid-February 2012 when America’s biggest bank finally (or just fashionably late?) opened their official accounts, @chasenews and @chasesupport, and started addressing customer support problems live to the world. Unmetric has analyzed the Twitter metrics of America’s top banks for April 2012. The accounts we analyzed were @AskCiti, @Ask_WellsFargo, @BofA_Help and @ChaseSupport.

Avatars of American Banks

Follower Analysis

In terms of raw numbers, Bank of America is really putting itself out there with nearly 25,000 followers which is not too surprising since, along with Wells Fargo, they have been responding to tweets since March 2009. Of course, Chase is lagging behind but if they carry on with their current growth rates they’ll soon have more followers that Citibank.

Bank Followers and Growth

Tweet Analysis

Most Twitter accounts run by brands will be looking to put their content out in to the Twitterverse in the hope that it gets picked up and retweeted. On the other hand, a dedicated customer support Twitter account has a very unique tweet profile as the graph below shows.

Type of Tweets

The accounts are overwhelmingly used to respond just to customer queries but it’s interesting to note that both Chase and Citibank are making use of the accounts to send out some pro-active tweets.

In terms of tweet volumes, Bank of America is once again the most active, sending out over 3,900 tweets, while Citibank lagged far behind with just 800 replies. What’s more interesting is that BofA, Chase and Wells Fargo all give details about the number of staff they have answering your queries so we can compare the average number of tweets answered per employee.

Tweets per Employee

We’re not sure why Citibank don’t give details about who’s on their support team, @Citi, care to elaborate?

(note that the number of tweets per employee could potentially be much higher depending on the volumes of Direct Messages the accounts deal with).

The real juicy data is when we look at what we call the Average Reply Time (ART) which is the amount of time between a question being asked and the brand responding to it. As more brands realize they need some form of customer support channel on one of the most popular social networks in the world, the amount of time customers have to wait for a response is going to become a crucial factor in customer satisfaction.

Average Reply Time

(note that we are unable to track response times to Direct Messages and are not factored in to this calculation)

It’s surprising to see that over the past couple of months, the ART of Bank of America has declined steadily. Earlier, customers were waiting an average of 18 hours for reply but in April, tweeters had to wait nearly 24 hours for a response. Twitter is an instant feedback ecosystem and if a brand has set up a channel to help customers then the customers will expect a very quick reply. Citi, on the other hand, are very quick in responding to messages and in April 2012, managed to reply to nearly 800 questions in less than 2 hours.

Tweet Reply Benchmarks

Finally, we looked at the tweet times (Eastern Time) for the four banks and discovered that BofA, Chase and Citi operate on a standard 8 hour shift. Wells Fargo, on the other hand, even has people replying to messages at 3am, which suggests a 24 hour operation, albeit with a graveyard shift for the small hours of the night. The banks are replying most between 12pm and 3pm which suggests this is the most popular time for people to contact their banks – probably because of the lunch break.

Time of Tweets

Twitter: The New Support Frontline

Twitter is becoming an essential support channel for many businesses to interact directly with consumers and if any CEO or chairman wanted to get a feel for what their customers really want or what’s really going wrong, a few hours on Twitter will probably give them all the answers they need.

Have you ever used Twitter to get support or had a brand reach out to you when you tweeted how lame their support was? Let us know in the comments below what your thoughts are.

All data has been compiled and analyzed from the Unmetric application which tracks dozens of metrics to enable brands to benchmark themselves against competitors and their industry sector. Gain access to all this data by claiming a 10 day free trial.