How The Royal Bank of Canada Continues to Excel in Social Networking
A couple of years ago I was involved in a meeting with RBC, the Royal Bank of Canada. During one aspect of our discussions, we talked about how they were incorporating areas of Web 2.0 into their business process, particularly on the customer side. The year prior, RBC had started a contest around innovation and created a blog, an avatar and video designed to challenge Canadian youths and to help predict how they would influence the banking industry. There were about 18 colleges and universities in the first contest and then it has expanded from there.
Of course, I thought this was pretty cool. As I learned more about what they were doing and why, I became intrigued and enlightened. I was not expecting this kind of behavior especially from a bank with the word Royal in it. I guess it seemed like an oxymoron at the time. I was used to hearing this level of modern thinking coming out of the likes of Wells Fargo, who at the time and over the years has been equated with one of the most progressive technological banks in the world. Indeed, Wells Fargo initially had the most Internet banking users and of course one of the best online experiences as the Internet was incorporated into financial services in the 90’s.
As a result of something I’m working on, I had occasion to re-enlighten myself on what RBC was doing. Their latest contest features a “Do-Over” video challenge for the best advice on starting school over again. There were 3 student winners in Canada, each receiving $10,000. OK, the Royal Bank of Canada is quite profitable and managed to escape relatively unscathed from the financial debacle. I believe their total losses were less than $10 billion. So $10,000 is not a lot of cash to give away.
But really, what’s more interesting is the fact that RBC took an active role in using web 2.0 to connect with young people and to get their input into their system. RBC started when the use of these social internet mediums was still in its quite early stages. And they began when there were mixed concerns about how to manage and monitor it in the event of negative backlash or comments directed at or to the bank.
They’ve made it a success. I can’t say that RBC is the de-facto standard when it comes to the use of social media technology, but they’ve come a long way while there has been such negativism and adversity in the banking world. I’ve been equally impressed with their commitment to green and the environment, community service, and a recent revamping of their entire online experience. They now service 3 million online customers. All pretty heady doings from a bank with such a stuffy name.
RBC does operate in the U.S. as Centura Bank and RBC Bank USA and I cannot speak to that aspect of things. I certainly would be interested in hearing your comments on social media in financial services.