Banking over Computers, and over Coffee: Capital One 360’s Hybrid Approach to Social Engagement

by on Jun 16, 2015

capital_one_logoIn the ongoing battle for customers, online presence is the occasional ally and oft-times blockade to firms hoping to wrangle real-time opinions, praises and meaningful engagement of customers and prospects. Most banks take to social media and websites to promote their volunteer efforts, community work and announcements or promotions for banking features and products alike. Often, glossy ad photos, videos and reposts constitute a large part of the banks’ social engagement with the Facebooking and tweeting public. Even more often, these pages become a haven for complaints and personal information overshare from customers as firms struggle to engage the audience to sing their praises and visit their sites.

Capital One 360 (né ING), however, stands out for its innovative and highly personal #my360 campaign online, presenting customers with a personalized perspective of the ins and outs of banking, along with the physical café-branch hybrids where associates help with account and banking needs. The posts and statuses are excellent tie-ins with the personal banking services available at its cafés across the country. Associates are featured frequently on its Facebook and Twitter accounts, with cheery quotes and descriptions of their interests and customer highlights.

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Capital One 360 Café

These cafés offer customers an expansive range of services and freebies, from direct help with accounts to a colorful array of workshops and waffle giveaways. Touted as community centers, the cafés add a fun, human layer to the banking experience that many customers may desire, but certainly do not expect from their financial service providers. A brief scroll through its Facebook page reveals a robust suite of financial wellness presentations, helpful tips and enticing treats.

Our research team witnessed this in action as customers and coffee drinkers alike bounded throughout the Manhattan location. There, customers interacted with associates, sipped drinks from the in-house Peet’s Coffee & Tea shop and studied throughout the dual-level building. This is a stark contrast to most other bank experiences, which could do more to keep customers engaged or otherwise distracted from the time spent waiting for teller availability.

Although it is not a full-service bank, 360 definitely sets a standard for catering to multiple types of customers, whether their aim is to get in and out, or simply linger for a while and learn more about other banking products. A recent Crain’s article announced the expansion of the café to other locations, including Union Square and SoHo, with enhanced opportunities for in-house bankers equipped with mobile devices to address customers’ account needs. It would also serve the parent firm well if the current model were to expand services within branches, and include Capital One accounts at the cafés.