SentsCheck – A year of online attitudes towards banks

Scandals, glitches, mishaps and mis-selling have meant banks have stolen the headlines over the last year. After banking trust hit an all-time low in the wake of the economic crash followed by banking bailouts, the industry has been hard pressed to restore faith, writes Colin Bristow

Scandals, glitches, mishaps and mis-selling have meant banks have stolen the headlines over the last year. After banking trust hit an all-time low in the wake of the economic crash followed by banking bailouts, the industry has been hard pressed to restore faith, writes Colin Bristow

From the start of 2013, SAS and Deloitte began tracking and analysing social media to gather insight into the perception of the UK’s high street banks by the online community. SentsCheck provides a fresh perspective on the events and experiences that affect consumer sentiment. It identifies key ‘pain’ points and moments of truth for UK banking consumers, pinpointing when they occur.

Since it began analysing online commentary, SentsCheck has scanned over 1.2m relevant social and news media documents. From this huge volume of ‘expressions’ of sentiment, three key customer priorities were identified; value, customer experience and trust.

The SentsCheck index has proved to be a unique barometer of public sentiment towards the high street banks. The insight it provides into events that encourage online discussion is highly valuable for the banking industry. Reviewing the 2013 data we can see that over the course of the year banks have made progress in reducing the amount of negative sentiment that appears online.

However, this is a trend they will be hard pressed to continue in 2014. In the first few months of the year we have already seen outcry over data breaches, IT glitches, jobs cuts and branch closures as well as the long awaited charges over the LIBOR rigging scandal.

There remains a significant amount of work to do to improve sentiment and reputation across the banking industry, with IT-related problems an increasing concern.

Banks can take heart from the improving opinions around customer experience. New online and mobile services have been welcomed and banks can use this platform for continuing improvement throughout 2014.

As social media becomes increasingly intertwined with our day-to-day lives and as social media platforms increase user bases year on year, banks will have to adapt, listen and communicate with their customers through this unique channel. As the number of high-street branches continues to dwindle, social media will become an increasingly important point of contact for banks. It is essential these organisations begin to understand best practices for social media engagement or they risk adding to the negative sentiment levied at them.

The 2014 Q1 SentsCheck report, due out shortly, should give an indication of the progress banks have made in this respect.