As one of the main components of the community, the forum offers customers the opportunity to ask questions, help each other, discuss current financial news, resolve issues and give feedback.
The forum has a clear structure, based on the different banking products and services SNS offers. Visitors can easily see what content is new on the community overview page. In a separate subforum, customers can start off-topic conversations and to get to know each other. Each month, over 30,000 visitors find answers to their questions, discuss financial topics, offer feedback and help others by posting over 1,000 comments.
The SNS blog is another main component of the community, offering members the opportunity to ask questions and leave comments on relevant topics. With its blog, SNS keeps its community members informed with a wide variety of content, including:
- News about products, services and special events
- Blogs from experts Results of co-creation with community member.
- Interviews (with community members)
- News about current events in the financial industry
- Financial tips and tricks
Interactive PR & SEO benefit
SNS uses its blog to create interactive PR. Different authors from SNS are able to create blog posts which can contain images, videos, polls and discussions (which can be moderated by the bank). SNS has published over 200 posts so far. Via the blog, customers can easily be redirected to other pages on the SNS website. The effect of blog traffic increasing the traffic to the regular website has been furthermore increased by several search engine optimizations in the platform.
The biggest motivation for community members to participate and play an active role in the community is being driven by their interest in other community members and desire to keep in touch with them. By creating interviews with community members, participation is furthermore stimulated. When a community interview is posted, other members clearly show a positive attitude towards by commenting and asking extra questions to the interviewed users.
SNS initially launched a small scale members-only community including a forum and blog in order to offer service and gather feedback from their customers. After switching to inSided in December 2011, SNS added a co-creation module, website integrations and connected the community to their customer data warehouse.
The website of SNS contains a page with more information about the community and a video in which the community manager tells more about the purpose of the community and explains its value for SNS and its customers.
Various website integrations provide visibility to the community and its content, inviting visitors to join the community and interact with other customers and employees. For example, widgets show recent and active forum topics in various website locations. And on every website page, the community is mentioned as one of the customer contact channels for service & contact.
In the community itself, user profile pages allow members to see new private messages, view new comments in topics they follow or created, update their profile, and directly visit main areas of the community.
In 2013, the community was directly connected to the My SNS personal banking environment, so that customers can immediately see which topics are being discussed in the community and are able to access the community with their customer accounts. This integration was made by means of a Single Sign On (SSO) functionality. By connecting to the data warehouse of SNS, the SSO functionality also provided moderators with direct access to the account details and contact history of community members and created the possibility to target customers with relevant community content.
The SNS community is solidly embedded and widely supported within the organization. It has become a vital part of the SNS new customer engagement strategy, which also involves a customer council, web care via social media and a social listening program (part of the Normal Banking campaign).
The moderation is done by Tineke, Olaf, Tibor, Othman, Dennis, Joyce and Kirsty, who have a customer-focused approach and a wealth of knowledge about financial products and services and ensure a pleasant and open atmosphere for the community members.
Moderators play various roles, including answering questions and keeping track of the overall mood on the forum (for example by intervening if members violate community guidelines). The clear structure of the forum is maintained by moving topics to the correct subforum and editing topic titles as needed to make sure they are easy to find. The moderators also act as hosts/ dialogue facilitators: they welcome new members, express their appreciation for active users, create interesting content and identify customer feedback to pass on to the right department within SNS.
Rewarding super users
To nurture the engaged users who sustain and grow customer communities, companies can use gamification to identify, reward and analyze the user behaviors that bring value to community members and encourage them to return. The strategic use of game, reputation, and social mechanics inspires contribution, sharing, and content advocacy; boosting engagement and creating more customer advocates.
Some of the SNS community members are granted the title ‘Community Experts’ because of the expertise they showed by their participation in the community and the way they helped other people. They are rewarded with their own sub forum, where they can talk in private with other experts, the community manager and the moderators. They are also granted offline rewards. For example, SNS invites them on a regular basis to visit the office, meet employees and provides tours to special departments like the IT department. On a monthly basis the community members can send in nominations for the ‘Community Member of the Month’. This member receives special attention in the community newsletter that is sent to all community members each month.
Facilitating real conversations
SNS notices a difference in the tone of voice that is present in the comments on the community and those on other social channels like Facebook and Twitter. This difference became extra visible when the Dutch government announced that SNS REAAL (which SNS was part of) had to be nationalized because it found itself in acute distress due to its real estate problems. There was a lot of negative sentiment on Facebook and Twitter, while on the forum people started keen and knowledgeable conversations about the topic and were able to see the distinction between SNS REAAL and SNS.