Do online reviews affect your institution’s reputation?
It’s not uncommon for consumers searching for a restaurant, shopping for a product, or seeking a financial service to turn to online reviews for recommendations from other consumers. Dedicated online review sites like Yelp, as well as social media sites like Facebook, large retailers like Amazon, and search engines like Google, are increasingly a go-to resource for information on the products and services consumers are interested in spending money on. Does the same apply to financial institutions? Absolutely.
Review sites like DepositAccounts, mybanktracker, and nerdwallet, for example, are focused on evaluating the financial offerings and customer service of all types of institutions, from credit unions to banks. Just visit one and search for your financial institution to get an idea about the type of information that is easily available.
To learn how important online reviews are to the decisions consumers make about the products and services they use, including financial offerings, Vantiv teamed up with Socratic Technologies to conduct a survey of 500 individuals. Let’s review the highlights.
The majority of respondents consult online reviews before making a purchase
58% of survey participants note they “Always” or “Most of the time” read online reviews before spending money on a new product.
Millennials and Gen Xers consult online reviews the most often
While less than half of Baby Boomers (48%) and Retirees (45%) read online reviews before making a purchase, 76% of Millennials and 63% of Gen Xers do.
Consumers consider online product reviews important to their decision making process
58% of survey respondents say online product reviews are “Extremely” or “Very” important when purchasing a product, and the numbers are higher among Millennials (70%) and Gen Xers (66%).
Nearly half of survey respondents read online reviews before selecting a new service provider
49% of survey participants said they “Always” or “Most of the time” read online reviews before selecting a new service provider. And 70% of Millennials consult online reviews first.
Online service provider reviews are considered important by the majority of respondents
Of those who read online service provider reviews, 59% find them “Extremely” or “Very” important to making a decision.
The most important part of online reviews is the overall rating or score
66% of survey respondents say the most important section of online reviews is the overall rating or score, followed by the ratio of positive to negative reviews (63%), the amount of detail within the reviews (62%), and how recent the reviews are (59%).
While the survey offered a wealth of information about how consumers view online reviews, here are four important takeaways for financial institutions.
- Business reputation should not be underestimated. What potential customers or members hear about your financial institution has a big impact on their decision whether or not to use your services. In order to attract and retain consumers, cultivating and maintaining a positive reputation should be a top priority.
- There are many points of contact with consumers. Whether on review sites or on social media, consumers gather information about financial institutions from many places. Financial institutions, in turn, need to ensure they are addressing concerns at all points of interaction.
- Different generations provide feedback in different ways. While Millennials and Gen Xers are more likely to speak their mind on review sites and social media, financial institutions need to take reach out to Baby Boomers and Retirees in different ways in order to get their input.
- Data is critical. The more that financial institutions know about what consumers think about their brand, the more they can address problem areas as well as areas for potential growth. When organized in a useful way, online reviews offer a wealth of information that can be leveraged for both short- and long-term success.
Steps to take now
Knowing that consumers are using online reviews to help make important decisions about the financial institutions they patronize, here are four things you can do now.
- Make personalization a priority. Today’s consumers not only appreciate, but expect, a white glove approach. Assign team members to interact with your financial institution’s customers and members where they are, both online and in person (see #3), and implement programs that recognize important milestones (e.g., account opening anniversaries, birthdays, etc.).
- Let them know you appreciate their business. When you come across a negative review, don’t ignore or delete it—work to address the issue instead. Those who have a negative experience are more inclined to give your institution another chance when you make a wrong, right.
- Give your customers other ways to provide feedback. Since Baby Boomers and Retirees are less likely to frequent review sites, it’s worth the time and effort to meet them where they are. Send representatives to local group meetings that target these populations. Make it easy for them to provide feedback within your branches.
- Start using data to inform business decisions. All the data in the world is useless if you can’t understand and apply it to day-to-day decisions and operations. A reputable payment partner like Vantiv has the technology and resources to help financial institutions organize and translate valuable data, making it useful for programs that build trust and loyalty.
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