Why Bad Online Reviews Are Good For Your Bank

Many financial institutions dread bad online reviews. But here's why you should view negative feedback as golden opportunities.
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Getting a bad online review can be a big nightmare for banks and credit unions. As awful as that may seem, nothing could be worse than having a disgruntled consumer who is unhappy with your service… and you never know the reason.

No financial institution is ever going to be perfect, and you can’t make every consumer happy. But negative reviews on sites like yelp.com can teach banking executives a lot, and help the bank improve its overall experience for consumers.

When people search for a bank or credit union, an absence of bad reviews can cause some skeptical consumers to raise an eyebrow — “Why are all these reviews I’m seeing so positive? Are they fake?” Nowadays, consumers are jaded and might feel that too much of a good thing can’t really be all that good. Consumers tend to weigh reviews gushing about “awesome service” less seriously than those that offer a well-rounded view of what they might expect — both the good and the bad. Consumers aren’t stupid; they can often sniff out reviews that have been fabricated, and if something doesn’t pass the sniff test, they may categorically dismiss all reviews.

No one ever expects to see a 100% satisfaction rating. Everyone understands that sometimes things can just go wrong. No matter who you hire, how strict you abide by policies, or how well you train your employees, a ball will get dropped occasionally.

Unhappy consumers will often go home and talk about their experience with family and friends. But consumers feel increasingly inclined to recap their ordeal and share their opinions in social channels. Conservative, traditional institutions that aren’t comfortable with social media may find negative reviews threatening.

Reality Check: The only “bad review” is one that goes unanswered by the financial institution.

Social media can help improve customer service experience and potentially turn bad reviews into good ones. Having a strategic social media plan in place can help banks and credit unions use negative reviews as a learning experience as well as a way to potentially fix the problem that caused the complaint in the first place.

Here’s why your institution should view negative reviews in a positive light:

  1. Acknowledging problems lets consumers know that you care. Half the time, someone who is complaining just wants to be heard and feel like their complaint is being listened to. While you may not have an immediate fix for the problem, reaching out via social media lets them know that you are working on it and want to help them. It personalizes their interaction with you as a business and helps legitimize their concerns.
  2. Bad reviews and negative feedback help you with troubleshooting. You can’t fix problems that you don’t know about. For instance, perhaps your mobile banking site or online banking goes down. You might not know about this when it first happens, but you can be 100% sure that someone on Twitter will be complaining about it. In this case, you can let people know you are aware of the problem and working to fix it. You could then send out a tweet when everything is back up and running, thanking your customers for their help. They’ll feel part of the team and that interacting with you actually helped them.
  3. It creates opportunities to educate. With so many people complaining about different things, you can provide resources to help them solve their problems. While they are waiting for an official representative from the bank to help them, you may be able to suggest some possible solutions that can help them in the interim. Perhaps many people are complaining about the same thing. You could release a post that allows them to solve their issue. This way, they don’t have to visit one of your branches — voila, you’ve fixed their problem. Convenience is key to consumers, and being able to get an effective answer to something that isn’t working without having to go anywhere is fantastic.
  4. It will build relationships. If somebody complains about something and you go out of your way to fix this issue through social media, a bond will form. If they have a follow-up question or need additional help, they will know they can turn to this channel to get answers. It will foster a bond that makes them want to use your bank over others.
  5. Fix a complaint and it will prevent other bad reviews. It will have a domino effect. While a few bad reviews aren’t bad, having a bunch is definitely not good. If you are able to use social media to your advantage, that one bad review could turn it into a much larger group of positive reviews.

Showing a silver lining in a bad situation shows you care about your customers and establishes trust. People understand that not everyone is perfect, but if you tell a story about how you worked to fix something, they’ll be pleased.

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