The Customer Effect
Banks are trying to save their online reputations
- Financial technology company Geezeo launched a software platform that evaluates customer sentiment by scanning Google and Facebook reviews.
- A Texas-based credit union that operates in five states has been testing the software to monitor the social media review feeds.
Perhaps no modern American pastime is as popular as trolling companies on social media. And behind airlines, hating on banks might be the most common. A recent Gallup Poll found that only 27 percent of U.S. residents have a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in banks. Now, some banks are trying to fight back. "If you're not monitoring your reputational risk online, you're not only doing yourself a disservice, but probably ignoring something much bigger than you assume or believe to be important," said Tim McCoy, vp of marketing and e-commerce at InTouch Credit Union. The Texas-based credit union, which has 20 branches in five states, has been testing software developed by financial technology company Geezeo to monitor the social media review feeds of four branches. McCoy said the he's seen ratings rise since the company has been using it, particularly for the bank's main Plano, Texas Branch -- from 2.5 stars to 3.5 stars on Google. "If your star rating goes up, that's a relatively easy thing to see, but what is less visible is the effect that has from an SEO standpoint," said McCoy, who noted that the effort was part of a strategy to improve its placement in Google search results. "So much of what you see online is people looking for an outlet to vent," said Jim Craig, vp of consulting services for Geezeo, which launched the product Tuesday to help banks. "Often there's a disconnect between what you see there and what internal surveys are showing." Geezeo, whose main product focus is personal finance management tools for banks and credit unions, said the software scans Facebook and Google reviews to give brands an assessment of their online reputation. It also does keyword searches to identify areas of concern such as long wait times. Because many reviews tended to be negative, following a discussion with the bank, Geezeo worked with the client to find ways to encourage more customers to leave reviews. According to Geezeo, InTouch has experienced a 132 percent increase in customer sentiment on Google. "In most cases, people are very happy with their local bank or credit union, but that's not being reflected in their online platforms," he said. The software could be used by any bank, but Craig said he expects most business to come from banks and credit unions with assets between $500 million to $2 billion. While Twitter, Instagram and other platforms were relevant to online reputation, the company said Facebook and Google have the most lasting effect (particularly for searches) and that's why the software is focusing on them. InTouch said it worked with Geezeo to approach a couple of hundred customers in each of the targeted branches by email who were encouraged to post reviews. When asked if the move was a means to populate the platforms with mostly positive feedback, McCoy said customers were not given incentives to leave stellar reviews. "These are not bought, we're just asking members what they think about us," McCoy said. "I have no interest in gaming the system, but I've heard of other platforms buying or manufacturing reviews to improve scores and that's not what this is." Mark Arnold, a branding consultant who works with finance companies, said it's important for banks to boost online reputations by capturing good customer experiences, but the emphasis should be on superior service that organically drives positive online feedback. "You need to be doing such great service and products that they'll naturally want to do that."