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?