Guest Contributor: Andrea Parrish, Digital Marketing Assistant Manager, Spokane Teachers Credit Union (STCU)
A business’s reputation is a precious thing. Monitoring that reputation is critical for businesses looking to maintain their online presences. Since its development, social media has been both a blessing and curse for businesses looking to connect with their audiences. It’s because of this challenge that banks and credit unions are looking to better monitor their reputations on the most popular social platforms.
In this post, STCU Digital Marketing Assistant Manager Andrea Parrish helps explain how a bank or credit union can not only protect its brand reputation online, but also give ideas as to how it can take advantage of these platforms.
Even though her job title reads “Digital Marketing Assistant Manager,” Parrish describes herself as an “Online Reputation Manager.” She works with the STCU team that handles both their owned (i.e., website) and participatory (i.e., social media, review websites, employee review sites, etc.) digital media.
Social media has had a big impact on both credit unions and banks. Not only is social media an “all day, every day” effort, but the ability to reach potential members also makes it a vital part to a financial institution's marketing success.
Parrish explains that the research she’s found supports this claim:
“Some of the most recent research I've read found that nearly 40 percent of people prefer digital customer and member service channels, and 57 percent of people are willing to shun a business after a bad digital care experience.”
In other words, social media has done to the financial industry what it has done to nearly every other industry—it's flipped the power structure of communication. And Parrish believes this to be a good thing. She continues, “Businesses and organizations have unprecedented visibility into how customers and members really feel, what they actually expect and how you can meet those expectations.”
As powerful a tool as social media may seem, it’s also important to realize the work that must be put into the platforms to maintain lasting success. But for those who are willing to commit to the social experience, the opportunity to connect is waiting.
As Parrish puts it, “there are many.” The Reputation Institute estimates that 63 percent of the general public will give companies with excellent reputations the benefit of the doubt in times of crisis. There's a 2.7x increase in purchase intent when a reputation improves from "average" to "excellent." Eighty-seven percent of people do comparison shopping for every purchase, and that includes your online reputation, according to the McKinsey Institute. While 70 percent of people will change their minds about an organization when they see responses to something negative online, according to Jay Baer's Hug Your Haters.
And 86 percent of customers will pay more for a better customer experience, according to Oracle. Parrish explains that those numbers barely scratch the surface:
“I'm a big fan of evidence-based decisions, and both the qualitative and quantitative data tells us that social media and online reputation management are worth it.”
Parrish explains that the monitoring process can be difficult for banks or credit unions of different sizes. Her own institution, for example, is in the middle ground. STCU is too small to afford online-monitoring software that will keep track of a brand’s online reputation, including social media, location services and more. On the opposite side, the branch is too large for the monitoring process to fall on just one person.
Parrish solved this problem by coming up with her own way of monitoring the brand's social reputation. She explains, “I built a custom system that isn't free but is very low-cost. And it is extraordinarily flexible and functional in a way that many of the pre-built services aren't. We actively monitor through that system for mentions of us or comments that we should respond to on more than three-dozen different websites and networks, as well as utilizing Google Alerts for those that we didn't know were out there.”
She then goes on to explain how she protects her brand. Parrish makes it simple to understand—“Respond.” She explains that responding to comments, no matter the subject, is critical to the protection process.
“Be honest and transparent about as much as you possibly can. If you try to build a reputation that experience can't back up, you will eventually hurt both your FI's reputation and experience.”
If you’re worried about harming your financial brand’s social reputation, Parrish’s advice for you is to “quit worrying and pick a place to start.” She explains that you can’t worry and tie yourself up into knots over what you haven’t done. What’s more important is to get to work posting and responding.
Getting to working includes:
Parrish gives us her five-step process to handling negative comments.
She also gives some additional recommendations: “Tracking complaints in a centralized manner is one of the biggest—and then actually do something with that information. If someone is giving you the gift of telling you how you can improve, you should be as respectful of that information as possible, and that includes making sure you can spot trends.”
Finally, she suggests that you not delete something unless it's vulgar, an attack on an individual employee or fraudulent.
“It's better to show how you handle issues than pretend there aren't any.”
Andrea Parrish will be speaking at the CUNA conference in March. Her breakout session is titled, “Social Warriors—Handling Complaints and Negativity on Social Media with Professionalism and Empathy.” Check out the description of her session below:
Social media is a spectator sport, and one where angry members, trolls, and haters seem to be playing dirty. It's easy to write off social media as an outlet to avoid because of the complaints and negativity, but that's precisely why your credit union should be digging in. Doing so with empathy and professionalism worthy of credit unions, though, means equipping your social response team with the tools, support, and processes necessary to create member magic while maintaining their own emotional health.