How Can Banks and Financial Institutions Improve Their Online Reputation Management
Banks and financial services institutions have a long-lasting tradition of having a bad reputation. Things get even worse during economic downturns and financial crises. However there are levers that reputation managers can pull to help these institutions steady a poor reputation and begin building a positive one.
Methods for Rebuilding Reputation
First, communication with customers can be improved. Considering that usually customers of financial institutions keep their money there, an open channel for communication should always be available. Similarly, internal communication is just as important as the external.
External communication will comprise of:
- Positive brand messaging and positioning
- Ask for and respond to feedback from customers
- Showing that the bank is a responsible, trustworthy partner in tough times
Internal communication will include:
- Having clear guidelines for employees what kind of behavior is rewarded or unacceptable
- Keep everyone in the loop and share strategy, mission and values
- Accept and respond to feedback from employees
Secondly, focus on consistency. When there is a divergence between what you communicate and your actions, the reputation will form based off of the actions. For example, promised compensations and rewards structures must be followed to match your internal communication with employees. Customer service and product policies should also meet the expectations of your customers and coincide with the message your brand sends in your external communication.
Third, work on existing relationships. The market has become slightly tougher for banks, with profits taking a hit and more technology companies entering the fray to offer better customer experience. This puts banks under pressure to keep their customers. Existing relationships with customers should be nurtured, because once the customer is lost the chance of him or her coming back is slim.
Fourth, keep your promises and meet expectations. Customers expect banks to engage in citizenship, good governance and innovation, along with having solid financial performance and trustworthy products and services. A bank’s ability to meet those 5 expectations will be reflected in its general reputation. Failing to meet the expectations of the customers will quickly translate into reputation damage. Trust takes a long time to build and only a second to destroy, especially in sensitive domains like money and finances.
Fifth, use social media. Social media is a great channel for financial institutions to use for communication. It promotes direct interaction and users feel listened to. Further, social channels can be used to post updates about activity, products or even internal milestones. This will have a powerful impact on a financial institution’s online reputation.