REDIRECTING TO VISIBLEBANKING.COM
Last week, ASB Bank officially launched the very first virtual branch on facebook. This was a great announcement, and the bank genuinely aims to provide a second-to-none level of service on the 500 million member strong social network.
I was extremely keen to try the service to better understand what Anna Curzon, General Manager Internet Banking, and her team meant by "Virtual Branch". Last wednesday, at about 9pm GMT, I spent half an hour chatting with one of their agents on facebook. Amit was very pleasant, knowledgeable and responsive. He provided me with an excellent level of customer support.
So, just like me you may have a few questions:
* How comprehensive is the range of services delivered by the bank via their application?
* How innovative is the application, and how intuitive is its interface?
* Did the bank manage to take the web chat experience to the next level?
* How much does the bank leverage the power for facebook and make it easy for users to spread the word?
You will find most of the answers in my video. You will also better understand what I mean by "Virtual Branch 1.0".
As you know, I am interested in the bigger picture. In my posts, I always make sure to put some perspective on the social media initiatives I review, and compare them with similar initiatives in our industry.
My goal is to add as much value as possible and to convince you we should start working together soon. ;)
My Video Review
I shot this video on 19 September. I spent close to 20 minutes talking about ASB Bank's social media strategy (twitter, blogs, and of course facebook) and sharing my initial comments on this innovative initiative.
* Companies mentioned: ASB Bank, Chase Bank, Vantage Credit Union.
* People mentioned: Charis Palmer, Anne Curzon, Simone McCallum.
Please find below the most interesting parts of my conversation with Amit, one of ASB Bank's eight agents dedicated to their Virtual Branch on facebook.
Once more, let me praise Amit for doing a brilliant job. I offered to give him more visibility in this post, but Amit doesn't have a linkedin profile or a twitter account yet.
Q: I believe you are 8 agents in the Virtual Branch team, am I correct?
A: Yes, we are a team of 8 consultants working in the Virtual Branch.
Q: I assume you are not 100% focused on the facebook chat, am I correct?
A: The 8 of us are a fully dedicated team working in the virtual branch, running shifts from 8am to 9pm everyday. We also have a presence on twitter.
Q: It makes sense, thanks. Do you have a dedicated twitter account in addition to @ASBBank and @ASBSecurities?
A: Our team is currently focused on facebook only. We have another team that works on our twitter account.
Q: How secure is this chat?
A: Data generated by the ASB Virtual Branch application is not stored by facebook or any third party. Only ASB have access, and it is protected by the same level of security monitoring and software that we use for ASB's FastNet Services. No one than the customer / the bank can read the conversation. It is not made public for anyone to comment.
Q: I appreciate that, and this is great. It is just a shame a happy customer can't use the native feature of facebook such as the share feat., comment or like to recommend your excellent customer service!
A: Customers are able to post their comments / views on the ASB wall.
Q: How much dedicated training did you and your seven colleagues get?
A: All of our consultants have over 2 years of banking experience. This Virtual Branch service have been set up to provide another innovative opportunity for ASB to chat with the online customers through a channel that suits them. We have received extensive training prior to the launch in relation to facebook and webchats.
Q: Any sales goals?
A: At present, because this is a new initiative with the bank, sales goals have not been set.
Q: Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer my questions! Much appreciated.
A: No worries Christophe, it has been a pleasure talking to you. Thank you for popping in to chat, feel free to come back if you have any more questions.
Related articles on Visible-Banking.com
* Top 10 Most Followed Financial Institutions on Twitter in August 2010
* Visible Banking Directory: Social Media in Financial Services
* Visible Banking Social Media Watch Series (Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, YouTube)