In April, USAA launched a new social site called What’s On Your Mind? to provide an open forum for discussion about the economy and finances. As a member of a military family, I’ve banked with USAA my whole life and have always been a HUGE fan of their incredible service. Much of their reputation centers around excellent customer service which is why I was excited to learn about this new site.
In short, the site is technically open to anyone (but of course tailored to USAA members as a primary audience) and allows for open discussion on everything from retirement investing to debt and auto insurance. Meant to connect members with other members for advice, they also provide a few of their own site contributors to chime in when appropriate, but these profiles are hidden under the “featured advice” section.
The idea is solid, but I do question if USAA is missing out on a big customer service opportunity. If you’re like me, you don’t like to spend a great deal of time messing with finances. It’s just not my cup of tea. When I need a transaction completed or other banking/investing help or advice, I want to make the process as simple as possible. It’s excellent to have access and response from top tier financial planners and portfolio managers but what happens when a post such as this pops up:
I cannot believe USAA takes sooo long to pay insurance claims!!!! My house was broken into 4 weeks ago and I have yet to even receive an update from USAA on the status of my claim!!!! I understand they have to do their research, but 4 WEEKS!!!??? I have family members that work at other insurance firms and they guarantee returns within two weeks!!! What is going on with USAA??
It seems that situations such as this could easily be resolved by designating two or three USAA employees to serve as social media customer services reps, featuring their photos and brief bios on the home page. The purpose of these managers would be to actively respond to complaints and concerns such as the post above in a timely manner or provide other necessary advice.
USAA also maintains a presence on Twitter and Facebook but seem to currently be utilizing both in a broadcast manner as opposed to conversation tools. One can easily argue that USAA could more actively be utilizing these tools to connect with members and provide rapid fire customer service. However, there is also a legit argument (as outlined by Brian Solis in this excellent post) for maintaining a broadcast approach if in fact USAA is not prepared to allocate resources for these channels.
Overall, I applaud USAA for taking the right steps to pay attention and help foster the online conversation. Strong online presence and engagement will undoubtedly pay dividends down the road as more and more members recognize the value of utilizing the Web as a parallel access channel. It will now be a matter of how the organization adapts to the changing role of online customer service.