Click to visit

What Bank Marketers Need to Know About Consumer Trust

January 19th, 2015 by Lisa Kanda

Do you have testimonials on your web site and reviews on directories and social media sites for your customers and prospective customers to see? Easy access to information online has allowed consumers to search for their products and services using the web before actually visiting a “brick and mortar” location or even speaking to someone at the business. Whether we like it or not, consumers will use online information, especially in the form of reviews and testimonials, to assist in their decision making to either purchase a product or service or to move their existing loyalty from one business to another. And now there’s research that confirms the importance of recommendations in earning consumer trust.

Research Shows Consumers Trust Recommendations and Reviews

According to Nielsen’s latest Global Trust in Advertising report (and shown in the chart), 92 percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.

What’s also important in this research is the second highest form of trust where 70 percent of consumers say they trust consumer opinions posted online. To put this in perspective, you need to observe your own behaviors as a customer. Think about a time when you wanted to purchase a new electronic device, such as a new tablet or smart phone. In addition to asking your friends and family for their opinions (as the research shows as a source you would trust), you most probably search for the item(s) that you are considering online. Not only are you looking at the specifications and the price, but most likely you are also reading the reviews that others have posted about their experience in purchasing and/or using the item. How much consideration do you give the information in these reviews in making your decision? According to the research, 70 percent will trust these reviews – from people they DO NOT know. Yes, there are many things to consider when looking at reviews, but what’s important is that we now change the perspective from the customer and see this from the business point of view.


As consumers, we readily use and trust reviews to assist in our decision making. The research further states that trust and action go hand in hand. “Consumer willingness to take action as a result of exposure to a specific message is a good proxy for how effective the advertising is.” There is a 2 percent increase to take action from consumers who trust opinions posted online.


Does your institution proactively provide your customers and prospective customers with an opportunity to find and read reviews and testimonials, on your web site, online and in other marketing materials?

Pros and Cons of Reviews

Customers are already seeking and giving reviews with their opinions on products and services. In many cases, companies follow up to ask for customers to post their reviews after purchasing a product. For financial institutions, reviews will show up on social media, such as Facebook, on Google business listings, and in various business directories such as the Yellow Pages. The Nielsen research shows that consumers will trust and act upon recommendations and opinions posted online. The results can bring in new customers and increase brand reach, often globally, while reducing advertising costs.

But in a highly regulated and conservative environment, it is easy to focus on the negative aspects of reviews. Unhappy customers are the most motivated to post negative reviews. But, if a customer is unhappy, finding a solution to the problem exists whether they post negative reviews online or spread their negative impression via word of mouth to family, friends, neighbors, etc. Technology has only accelerated the ability to share a bad experience.

The fact is that reviews are not going to go away. Instead, institutions need to include monitoring and appropriate response mechanisms within their policies and procedures for prompt oversight of reviews.

Bank Marketers: Get Proactive with Customer Testimonials

Bank marketers can use testimonials as an approach to build a resource of positive stories from satisfied customers. Institutions need to be more proactive and listen and be more attentive when they receive positive feedback from their customers. Then this feedback needs to be documented in either written form or in a video. Customer surveys are another way to capture positive reviews to use as quotes for marketing purposes. Of course, customers provide their permission for any use of their feedback.

A comprehensive customer testimonial strategy will further enhance search results if they are placed on the bank’s web site and social media sites using keywords and hashtags. For business customers, banks can help cross promote the business by using their logo and tagging or linking to the business online. Video testimonials can be placed on YouTube and uploaded to Facebook and the banks website for additional reach.

A proactive customer testimonial campaign will help provide more positive reviews to overshadow any potential negative reviews that may show up on social media or on directory sites. In addition, as the research shows, those consumers who read online recommendations are more likely to use and trust these reviews in decision making.

Does your institution see reviews in a negative or positive light? Does your institution proactively seek customer feedback and post testimonials?

Millennial’s Matter to Bank Marketing

January 5th, 2015 by Neal Reynolds

A generation ago, bankers could count on young people –piggy banks in hand — riding their parents’ coattails to the neighborhood branch. As the years passed a kid who opened a savings account at 10 opened a checking account or a student loan at the same bank before heading off to college at 18. In a few years, that meant a mortgage, a college fund for their children, or an IRA.

In the age of Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and online banking, the old assumptions are shattered. But how do we attract a generation that communicates phone-to-phone and text to text, not face to face? Believe it or not, this is a slice of the market that in some cases has never opened the doors of a bricks-and-mortar branch bank or learned how to write a check.

And at a micro level, how do community banks reach a generation overwhelmed with debt that inhibits wealth? A recent article in the Wall Street Journal states that the average Class of 2014 graduate with student-loan debt has to pay back some $33,000. This is the most indebted class ever.

A whopping 63 percent of millennials (ages 18 to 29) don’t have a credit card, according to a survey commissioned by Bankrate and compiled by Princeton Survey Research Associates International.

How can bank marketers find creative ways to attract those 18-to-29 year old customers? With a combination of creativity, using this generation’s technology and some of the old-fashioned, yet time-tested customer service and marketing techniques their parents knew well.

First, know this: The younger generation has embraced mobile banking more warmly than mobile phones. According to, people ages 18-29 make up 44 percent of mobile bankers, but make up only 22 percent of mobile phone users.

How can community banks grow their share of the online market, while at the same time draw the younger generation to the branch?

Broadly speaking, it’s about building trust, especially in the wake of the financial crisis in the last five years. According to The Economist and a survey by Accenture, less than a third of 18-to-24-year olds believe their bank operates in a fair and transparent manner. The same Economist article pointed out that one in 10 millennials have hung up in frustration when dealing with call centers.

On a more personal note, my 25- year- old son decided to buy a house. I recommended that he go to the local branch of Bank of America to apply for a mortgage. After waiting for 30 minutes to meet with a customer service representative, he was escorted into an empty office, except for a desk and a phone. The representative dialed an 800 number, gave the phone to my son and walked out. My son did the same with no plans to return.

But these downsides offer an opportunity for small community banks to attract customers that not only spend an average of 20 hours a week on a computer or smart phone, but are out and active. Here are some ideas that can be accomplished at a low cost. Accenture offers some interesting ideas. And we have a few of our own.

* Get out of the office. Go to where millennials are and find out the trends that are popular among them. Crafting these relationships can and should begin even before the potential customers reach 18.

* Offer millennials the human touch. To reduce frustration with online and phone banking, every branch should have at least one young, tech-savvy staffer who can network with young customers, speaking the language they understand. This individual also would be responsible for the branch’s social media presence, as part of the bank’s strategic online marketing. A personal presence at the bank gives young customers a face they can befriend, not an automated prompt that can frustrate. Conservative bankers might dismiss social media. Don’t. While return on investment may not be great at the outset, as millennials grow in their careers –and paychecks grow as well — solid returns will come.

*Winning new, young customers must be a priority. As the Accenture article points out that once a customer signs on with a bank, there’s only a 10 to 15 percent chance they will switch later. However, the older the potential customer, the tougher it is to win them over.

*With that in mind, consider sending small gifts or perks to young potential customers through their parents. A silver dollar at birth, a card with a coupon to a popular pizza parlor or ice cream shop on birthdays, rewards for good report cards.

*Sending a newspaper clipping celebrating a young person’s success with a congratulatory note also makes a big impression.

*Banks and bankers need to be visible at major community events where young potential customers gather: high school sporting or arts events, community festivals

*Give young people a voice.. There are bright, technologically tough people who can make a difference for your bank. Launch a contest asking students to design an online presence geared specifically to them. It creates a buzz in a circle filled with future entrepreneurs.

*Customize branches to meet customer needs. The needs of customers near a high school or college campus is different than that in older, more established neighborhoods.

*Link up with retail stores to offer customer discounts and other offers to online banking customers.

*Set up different avenues online for specific goals –an online “piggybank” for savings for example.

*Bring the bank to students. Teaching financial literacy –how to build credit, student loans, savings — can begin with something as simple as a late-afternoon pizza party as part of an economics class. Here, the bank can introduce its e-presence, and showcase the services it offers.

*Be the first banker in town to endorse and introduce Apple Pay. A recent article in the Credit Union Times describes how Navy Federal Credit Union announced they were supporting Apple Computer’s new Apple Pay mobile retail payment system. They even posted a video on YouTube to demonstrate the ease in which Apple Pay can be set up and used. This makes this credit union look hip to our younger generation.

As noted earlier, 18-29 year-olds enter the picture with debt. But today’s debtors are tomorrow’s asset creators.

And on a bright note, a story earlier this year in the Houston (Texas) Business Journal cited a survey of 600 Texans, ages 18-24, which revealed that those millennials visit their branch banks at least once a month, more often that their older counterparts.


Read more:

Lessons from Ralphie and “A Christmas Story” for Banks to Ponder

December 22nd, 2014 by Neal Reynolds

A Christmas Story, the 1983 film based on the late writer Jean Shepherd’s story of Ralphie and his quest for a Red Ryder BB Gun from Santa Claus, is a holiday classic.

The story takes place in small-town Indiana before World War II. – The heartwarming film, A Christmas Story reminds us of the simple joys of Christmases past. We’re reminded too, of those snafus that befall every family –from flat tires to temperamental household appliances.

But more than anything, it’s a sweet story of a bespectacled boy’s Christmas dream. We were all kids once. We’ve all walked in Ralphie’s shoes.

But can A Christmas Story inspire some lessons for businesses? You bet. Here are just a few.

  • Cast a Vision: It’s a truth as old as The Scriptures. Where there is no vision the people perish. The same is true for community banks, credit unions and other businesses. Has your bank crafted a vision for 2015, 2020 and beyond? Ralphie had a vision – a “Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time.” What’s your air rifle?
  • Overcoming the “You’ll shoot your eye out,” crowd. Time and time again, Ralphie weathered blunt warnings about the dangers of an air rifle – “You’ll shoot your eye out.” He got it from his Mom, his teacher, even a grouchy department store Santa Claus. But Ralphie stuck with his plan. Hard work, optimism and commitment can overcome the naysayers. Has your bank re-visited your strategic plan to align with your vision?
  • Fight off the “triple-dog dare”. Be careful not to take unnecessary risks. Too often, we listen to the crowd when our better judgment tells us to go in another direction. Remember Ralphie’s friend Flick? He took a “triple-dog dare” and wound up with his tongue affixed to a frozen flagpole. Seek wise counsel, not loud voices.
  • Little things matter. Fans of A Christmas Story will no doubt remember Ralphie’s Dad’s “major award,” a leg lamp complete with a stiletto heel and fishnet stocking. For Ralphie’s Dad, it was a new treasure, for Ralph’s mom, it was a neon tragedy. Every customer is different. The trick is finding what matters to your customer that will build customer loyalty. You can bet Ralphie’s Dad was loyal to the contest sponsor until his last breath.
  • Sometimes, life gives you a pink bunny suit. It can happen to you, or one of your employees, or one of your customers. Ralphie’s great aunt, who still envisioned her nine year-old great-nephew as a two year-old boy, sent him a pink bunny suit for Christmas. Needless to say, it was Christmas curveball for Ralphie. When the unexpected comes, do what Ralphie did. Roll with it. Your attitude is what counts.
  • The Decoder Ring Principle: Ralph experienced great disappointment when the Little Orphan Annie secret decoder ring he’d ordered in the mail translated a commercial message: “Drink Your Ovaltine.” Remember your message needs to speak to the customers’ needs and wants, not corporate jargon. Ralphie expected to unlock the mystery of buried treasure with his ring. Instead, he got a big disappointment.
  • Sometimes, you need to yell “Fudge”. We remember the scene when Ralphie helped his Dad change a flat, and lost the tire’s lug nuts in the nighttime snow. Ralphie let loose an expletive, one he’s heard time and again from his Dad. It’s OK to blow off steam, but do it privately, or with a trusted friend or colleague. Public outbursts can demoralize a team, and distract from the work to be done.
  • Nothing is more joyful than an unexpected success. At Ralphie’s all of the Christmas presents had been opened, or so it seemed. Ripped wrapping paper littered the floor. Ralphie’s Dad directed him to something behind the sofa. The kid found a beautifully-wrapped package, a long package, like an air rifle.

And it was indeed Ralphie’s Christmas dream come true, his Red Ryder gun, with the compass in the stock. Words describing a nine year-old child’s Christmas joy is indescribable.

  • Memories and Chinese Turkey. After neighborhood mutts had obliterated the family’s beautifully browned Christmas turkey, tears flowed like thin gravy.

“Get dressed” the Dad announced. “We’re going out to eat.”

The only open place was a Chinese restaurant, where the family feasted on Peking duck and were serenaded by the wait staff singing Christmas carols. The memory of it would live for generations.

Flexibility is the lesson here. When things don’t go as planned, be ready with a Plan B, a Plan C, even a Plan D.

  • And last, it’s about family. Your colleagues, customers, community and most important, your loved ones are yours. Treat everyone like family. There’s a reason we call ourselves “community” banks and credit unions have members. Our customers are all family, every day of the year.

Merry Christmas and a blessed and prosperous 2015.

How to Write a Social Media Policy for Your Financial Institution

August 7th, 2014 by Lisa Kanda

The expansion of social media in the workplace and for personal use has made it vital for financial institutions to include a specific social media policy within its policies and procedures. In the past it was easier to manage social media use by restricting access to sites on company systems, but smart phones and the acceptance of using social media in marketing communications has changed the landscape. Policies are needed to provide guidance to employees concerning appropriate use and for financial institution’s to manage risk assessment. In addition, the release of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) guidelines has brought even more attention to meeting regulatory requirements.

8 Steps to Create Your Social Media Policy

Financial institutions that may be creating a policy for the first time do not have to reinvent the wheel. Many companies have implemented policies that are available online to assist in getting started. A comprehensive policy can be created using the following steps:

1. Form a Committee – Social media is not just a marketing communications tool, and the policy needs to address several areas that should include representation from marketing, compliance, human resources and upper management.

2. Research and Review– There are many social media policies that are available to use as templates and provide suggestions on what you may want to include in your policy. For your reference, here are links to resources to get started.

IBM Social Computing Guidelines

Visible Banking List

Social Media Policy Database

57 Social Media Policy Examples and Resources

Social Media Policy Template

3. Select and Prioritize – The specifics in your policy will align with your institution’s culture and values. There is no one-size-fits-all policy and your policy should fit with your other governing documents and employee handbook.

4. Convene the Committee – Committee members can lend their expertise to these specific areas to consider for inclusion:

  • define the institution brand presence on social media for marketing purposes
  • specify acceptable and unacceptable employee use of social media for business purposes
  • use of disclaimers
  • follow copyright, fair use and financial disclosure laws
  • define who can use social media on behalf of the institution
  • define who can speak on behalf of the institution on social media
  • define appropriate behavior when using social media in the workplace
  • guidance to dealing with negative comments
  • describe the types of content that cannot be published, especially in dealing with customer privacy issues
  • describe approval and monitoring processes
  • specify employee training that may need to be completed
  • identify roles and responsibilities for enforcement of the policy

 5. Write the First Draft – Present to appropriate management for review. Make any edits based on feedback.

 6. Counsel Review – Your legal counsel should provide final review.

 7. Present to Board for Approval.

 8. Communicate – Implement a plan for employee review and acceptance.

A comprehensive social media policy guides employees on acceptable use, defines social media marketing protocols, and is an important document for regulatory compliance. Social media use and activity will only grow and continue to evolve as technology changes. A proactive approach will allow financial institutions to also adapt and manage change while being mindful of the regulatory environment.

Do you have any examples of social media policies to share or comments to add to the steps above?