The purpose of this paper is to investigate the role of Web 2.0 and social media in relationship marketing (RM) in banking. The aim is to understand why some banks resist the Web 2.0 trend, how this is aligned with their RM approaches and what the alternative paths for advancing customer relations could be. The paper focuses on the practices of banks in the less‐researched yet dynamically evolving South East European (SEE) region.
A qualitative case study approach was employed for this study. In total, three case studies were constructed, describing practices and RM approaches of retail banks in SEE. Data used for the construct of case studies were collected through in‐depth interviews with top management, documentation and banks’ official web sites.
Primary reasons for refraining from social media included: low customer demand for such form of interaction with banks; concerns over safety of Web 2.0 for banking; and lack of alignment with current RM strategies. While social media were not discarded for the future, they were deemed more appropriate for smaller or younger banks seeking innovative ways to capture market share.
The paper identifies requirements for the adoption of social media in bank marketing and offers insights on possible alternative RM strategies that combine electronic channels with a personal approach to banking.
Case studies offer insights on marketing practices of banks in the SEE region. The paper unveils challenges banks encounter in their RM efforts and their vision of the future of RM in a contemporary online setting.
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