Citibank points the way as it addresses customer complaints via Twitter

Citibank, which has a retail arm in the US, is taking to Twitter to respond to those snarky comments made by customers unhappy with the service they have received with the help of the man, Frank Eliason, who was behind @Comcastcares.

Citigroup: responding to Twitter complaints

The change in policy has been instigated by Eliason, who joined the company in August from US cable firm Comcast, where he very successfully introduced a policy of responding to company complaints on Twitter. He set the mould for a lot of customer care type activity on Twitter, which some companies still do not get (are you listening @eurotunnel, which despite all its Christmas problems still does nothing on Twitter).

It’s not just on Twitter: Eliason has taken the Citi brand forward on other social media fronts includings such as YouTube and blogging.

Other brands are well-known for responding to criticism on Twitter, but it’s still a relative rarity for banks. Citi’s Twitter page very clearly points out that it would be unwise to tweet any bank details but other than that, it does seem to be doing a good job of pacifying irate customers.

According to an interview Eliason has given to Reuters, the move is part of a plan to target young, wealthy customers based in urban areas and “creating the right customer experience”. Investing in technology also makes sense for a retail bank that has relatively few branches and needs to sign more people up online.

Having said that, the bank is also investing in making branches a bit more appealing to a youthful customer base, with a new flagship store in New York’s Union Square having free wi-fi and a lounge area.

Reuters reports that about 100 Citigroup employees have been trained to deal with complaints via the Twitter feed – so it’s a significant commitment. No doubt other banks will be keeping an eye on the impact on Citi’s brand reputation and following suit if significant improvements are made.

It will be interesting to see if this catches on at UK where there is very little in the way of Twitter activity other than First Direct, but that’s really a press feed rather than one for customers. Even that is more than other UK banks. Still Barclays appears to have something planned.

It clearly needs something to go with its snazzy looking ultra modern new branches. There is a good round up from last year on Dirk Singer’s blog looking at the various UK banks and nothing much seems to have changed since.