The surprising benefits financial services firms get via social media

Banks, insurance companies and other institutions are beginning to experiment with enterprise versions of popular consumer tools. Learn more about the ROI

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Enterprise social networking is supposed to bring Facebook-esque camaraderie to businesses, enabling employees to share information immediately and complete tasks faster, largely in an effort to support clients. But as with many new technologies, questions arise about this particular solution’s usefulness. Perhaps the most pointed query is, what’s the real return-on-investment (ROI) for corporate-level social media?

Companies operating in the financial services sphere are ideal candidates for enterprise social networking, so let’s look at these sorts of businesses. Reasoning: large banks, insurance companies and accounting firms often have thousands of staff members in numerous locations spread around the world. Staffers would value the chance to connect and share information, to gather business and client insight more rapidly, address customer concerns faster and, ultimately, generate more revenue.

So do financial services firms really benefit from enterprise social media? Numerous case studies suggest that, for many companies, the technology simply eases business operations. That’s a benefit. But a couple of stories from the corporate world tell of financial institutions using social networking to help customers and employees cope in terribly stressful circumstances, yielding benefits that go well beyond cost savings or revenue boosts.

Rapid hurricane response unit

U.S. insurance provider Nationwide used Yammer, an enterprise social media system, to support customers in a hurricane-ravaged area of Florida. According to a Yammer case study, Nationwide agents in the affected zone learned what customers needed—water, diapers and power sources—and used Yammer to convey that information to the logistics team. Logistics then made sure Nationwide trucks heading into other hurricane-hit parts of the state carried those necessities. ROI: faster customer support when customers really needed it; improved client relations.

Riot hotline

Here’s a story from Actiance, a social network platform provider, describing a company that used external social media for internal support. During the London riots of 2011, the U.K. branch of banking institution BNP Paribas tweeted advisories from the Metropolitan Police Service to workers. Those details helped keep employees informed about—and safe from—the chaos erupting on city streets. ROI: employee safety; improved productivity.

Number crunching

Clearly, some companies use social networking to great effect. But can businesses boil these advantages down to dollars and cents? The answer likely is yes, but according to Cisco Canada financial services industry advisor Geoffrey King, many businesses have not installed software to measure the financial benefits of social media.

“Those systems are lagging a bit,” King says, adding that the financial sector is relatively new to enterprise social networking. Technology companies, of course, were the first to use social media internally. It will take time for banks and other financial firms to thoroughly implement these systems, including monitoring functions and ROI-measurement capabilities.

No question, social media yields financial benefits, even if for now the precise value of these benefits is murky. Obviously BNP Paribas’ and Nationwide’s social media scenarios proved that the technology can be powerful.

Take the next step: lean ‘How to Transform Your Organization into a Social Business,’ by downloading a white paper from Frost & Sullivan. 

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at

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