Although it's one of America's oldest companies, Wells Fargo has become one of the industry's most forward-looking thinkers when it comes to social media and customer service. That's thanks in part to Kimarie Matthews, Senior Vice President of Social Care and Capabilities, who has been building out Wells Fargo's social care program since its first Twitter handle launched in 2009.
"I really craved working on something that's meaningful and important," Matthews says.
Wells Fargo, a banking institution with more than 80 different lines of business, has been around since the days of the Pony Express - more than 160 years - and currently serves more than 1 in 3 U.S. households. The complexity level is high, which is what makes Matthews' work so important.
"We want to be where our customers need us, in the ways that they need us," she says. "Having a coordinated enterprise approach in social media was a real priority."
That coordinated approach encompasses both the marketing and customer service facets of social media. On the service side, questions are triaged to the right person to "get the answer back in an efficient manner". But on the marketing side, Wells Fargo is taking a unique approach.
"We're now folding the social marketing functions back into the traditional marketing functions so they're not separate," Matthews says, adding that the same trend is likely to occur on the service side eventually. "The future is not that social is separate. It's really that there are a lot of different digital text-based tools, like chat and SMS and social, and they really need to be treated together and holistically."
One key reason for an omni-channel customer service view is that "customers sometimes want to move between channels," Matthews says. "We need to be able to enable these agents to start in one channel and then move with the customer to the other channel... There needs to be a lot more fluidity in terms of how we use these different channels."
As with many large companies, Wells Fargo is seeing increased customer usage of Facebook Messenger for customer service inquiries. One big benefit of this new channel? "We've seen a big decline in customers going to our public Facebook page with a customer service question," Matthews says.
Wells Fargo is also experimenting with chatbots on Facebook Messenger, not to replace human customer service but for proactive alerts such as low balance notifications or for simple service questions like finding the nearest ATM.
Matthews was kind enough to sit down with me and Dan Moriarty to discuss her pioneering career in social customer care and look toward the future of what customer service might look like in the coming months and years.
Here are some highlights of Episode 39 of the Focus on Customer Service Podcast and where to find them.
0:57 Kimarie's background
2:55 A bit about Wells Fargo
4:00 A look back at 2009 and the dawn of social customer care
6:21 Choosing the right technology for both marketing and customer service
8:59 How Wells Fargo's organization integrates social media marketing and service
13:08 Developing an omni-channel view of the customer
15:33 What types of characteristics does Wells Fargo look for in hiring social care agents?
19:42 How Wells Fargo is approaching private messaging as an emerging customer service channel
23:00 Preparing for a future with chat bots
26:31 Kimarie describes how a chat bot engagement might work
32:30 Recalling a memorable interaction with a customer
35:53 What Kimarie has learned after 7 years in social care that she wishes she knew at the beginning