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When we were kids we were taught that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” While it’s a great notion, we know that negative words have the ability to harm, particularly when aimed at a business.  

This means it’s important to keep an eye on what is being said in online reviews. The solution: reputation management.

Managing your bank’s online reputation consists of monitoring and responding to online reviews, both positive and negative. Why? Because when it comes to what is being said about your bank online, you cannot afford to not be a part of the conversation. Money is a very personal thing, and if you appear untrustworthy, potential customers will take their deposits elsewhere.  

Before we go any further, let’s look at the numbers. Online reviews have become a trusted resource for those going online to research products, services and businesses. Additionally, good reviews have the ability to influence behavior, according to 2015 polling from search marketing firm BrightLocal, which found:

  • 68 percent of U.S. internet users trust businesses more when they have positive reviews.
  • 80 percent of U.S. internet users who read a positive review of a company then act to get in touch with a company by visiting their website, visiting their business or calling them.

Actions taken after looking at reviews

BrightLocal also did a Local Consumer Review Survey in 2014 that yielded results showing the importance of consumer reviews in rating businesses. According to the polling:

  • 85 percent of consumers say they read up to 10 reviews to determine if they can trust a business.
  • 88 percent of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
  • 88 percent of consumers have read reviews to determine the quality of a local business.

These statistics indicate positive online reviews not only promote your bank’s credibility, but they can also drive consumers to act by getting in touch with you. Therefore, it is crucial to set up profiles on the most popular directories and maintain them.  

However, online directories aren’t automatically yours. They must be claimed and maintained. Think about a search you’ve done on Google for a local business. You most likely got a map with a pin in it and contact information for that business. But this isn’t done automatically; the “build it and they will come” approach doesn’t work for online directories.  

You must take the time to claim, optimize and verify accounts for Google My Business, YellowPages.com, Yelp and other top directories. Not only that, but devoting time for ongoing management of these accounts to respond to reviews is crucial. After all, how can you act if you don’t know what’s being said? It’s better to know than to be oblivious.  

“But what if we get a negative review?” you may ask. Negative reviews allow you to showcase your commitment to great customer service. Every community bank hangs its hat on customer service, making negative reviews an opportunity to shine.  

On the flip side of the coin, you can use positive reviews as a selling point. Consumers have more options than ever when it comes to a banking partner. There are community banks like yours, regional and national banks, online banks and credit unions all competing for market share. Wouldn’t it be nice to reply to “Why should I switch to your bank?” with “Great question! Here’s a long list of satisfied customers” instead of the usual “we have great service” routine?  

Though vital, managing your online reputation is time consuming work and requires vigilance. However, when done well, both good and bad reviews can be used to demonstrate the quality of your bank and can be used as a selling point to persuade potential customers to switch to your bank.

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