In a report published by FSD Kenya titled ‘Did you see my tweet: Monitoring financial consumer protection via social media’, FSD created a Twitter handle, @pesastory, with the aim of eliciting consumer’s experience with financial services in Kenya.
Vocal Kenyans on Twitter (KoT) shared their experience with financial institutions by tagging @pesastory over a six month period from August 2018.
Parallel to the Twitter handle, FSD Kenya also worked with an artificial intelligence company, CitiBeats, to collect and analyze tweets directed to 29 Kenyan financial institutions, filtering 10 different consumer protection categories.
The 10 keywords included; bank agents, blacklisting, frozen account, functionality, insurance claims, loans, privacy, customer service, scams and charges.
Over a period of three months, the research team observed that half of the issues raised by KOT related to requests to resolve customer service. Functionality (or a malfunction) of an app or web application came in second at 21 percent.
Interestingly, despite the popularity of lending apps such as Tala and Branch, the monitoring tools did not pick much twitter activity relating to the fintechs.
The report explained that the mobile lenders have an inbuilt customer service functionality embedded in the apps hence few customers use twitter to directly bring to the attention of raise issues related to mobile lending.
“This means that monitoring the conduct of fintech providers and others who have in-app customer care via social media may not be as effective as it was for banks and MNOs.”
However, a number of Twitter users revealed that mobile lending app Okash had been sending ‘embarrassing’ texts to contacts of loan defaulters, contrary to it’s terms and conditions.
@pesastory twitter handle also picked concerns by customers who expressed dismay at hidden bank charges and unauthorized transactions that led to missing funds in bank accounts.
Overall, 669 people reacted to a tweet that started off the missing funds thread from a user, and there were nearly 20,000 impressions on @felix_ogot tweet, “which shed light on this concerning practice.”
Some KoT shared their experience with financial institutions who credited customer accounts with unsolicited mobile loans while others were listed on Credit Reference Bureaus (CRBs) although they hadn’t taken a loan.
“One consumer for example, raised concerns regarding a debt of Sh54, an amount they claimed they never took from that lender, while another was given a loan they never requested,” said the report.
The pilot analysis showed how social media analytics tools can be an effective consumer protection tool but monitoring consumer experience can be pain-staking and may not necessarily be representative of an organization’s customer care responsiveness because other channels are in use.