Monday, September 12, 2011

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

A recent B & T article featured Australia's Commonwealth Bank.  The feature of the story was Andrew Lark, Commonwealth Bank's newly installed Chief Marketing Officer.  Mr. Lark highlighted Commonwealth Bank’s recent tie-up with Facebook Deals, offering people who opened a transaction account at the bank and liked the company on Facebook and checked in at a branch using Facebook Places, two free movie tickets every month for a year.  The strategy was successful from the point of view of new customer acquisition.  According to Commonwealth Bank's Facebook page it opened 2,200 new accounts.

While the campaign itself met its objective of establishing new accounts and growing its Facebook subscriber base, the campaign also went a long way upsetting existing customers who did not feel the love as they were not eligible for the free tickets.  Obviously, the point of the campaign was new accounts.  However, as detractors filed comment after comment on the Bank's Facebook page dedicated to the offer, Commonwealth Bank was no where to be found, resulting in greater and greater criticism.

Where Commonwealth Bank failed was in addressing the comments head on and explaining its strategy.  With social media you live by the sword and die by the sword.  In this case, the sword is transparency.  Commonwealth Bank's lack of transparency and participation let a great opportunity escape to "be real."  Instead of hiding from the comments the bank should have come out and explained the strategy so that its longstanding customers understood.  Along the way the bank would have picked up some helpful information to use relative to customer service and marketing.

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