Building strategic value from online reviews

  • Guest Post by Michael Fotis

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    It won’t come as a surprise to anyone reading this article that the finance sector is recovering strongly. In a fast-growing market that is becoming increasingly competitive, building and maintaining the trust of borrowers and savers alike is the defining priority.

    Indeed with the negative impact of scandals refusing to go away, now more than ever, finance providers should be at the forefront of the trust and transparency agenda.

    This is where where online reviews come in. By harnessing the power of online reviews, finance providers can take hold of the trust prerequisite.

    As financial services is an industry that consumers traditionally find difficult to engage with, online reviews, when executed well, can provide a helpful level of guidance when thinking closely about buying services from individual providers.

    But online reviews can go deeper than just helping the consumer: they can also be very powerful for the financial services providers too, offering the potential for delivering a competitive edge.

    Brands can use the reviews to increase trust and transparency. They can also empower advocates to spread the word, attracting new customers in the process. 

    Knowing what your customers are saying and benchmarking performance against key competitors unocks a rich vein of industry insight, which is something the most forward-looking banks and finance companies are now able to tap-into.

    Online reviews can also provide an innovative mechanism for demonstrating compliance with the regulatory regime. For example, online reviews can demonstrate good conduct in respect of treating customers fairly. In fact, the Financial Services Consumer Panel recently called for the FCA to make it easier for consumers to rate the finance companies they do business with.

    So what do you need to look for when putting an online review strategy in place?

    An essential checklist for online reviews in financial services

    1)   Is there a robust level of independent moderation?

    Who are you trusting to safeguard your online reputation, and what moderation process do they have in place?

    2)   Can you display your reviews on your site?

    Displaying your reviews on your platform can help to better guide consumers when they’re browsing your site.

    3)   Will your reviews provide you with rich performance and regulatory insight?

    Online reviews can capture a range of performance and regulatory metrics. Can you obtain this insight in simple to understand dashboards?   

    4)   Will your reviews give you a competitive or strategic edge?

    What else can you learn from online reviews?

    Are they helping you to demonstrate how you are performing in relation to your peers and what, if any, areas of improvement there are?

    In summary, the time is now. Adopting a proactive online review plan should be an integral part of any financial services businesses' marketing strategy. Adopted well, online reviews can become a bridge to greater trust and provide a low-cost way of generating insight and attracting more customers, all while helping to better guide consumers.

    Author bio: Mike Fotis is the founder of Smart Money People, a review and insight platform dedicated to financial services. Smart Money People is on a mission to use the power of customer reviews to help increase trust and transparency in financial services. Mike previously worked as a management consultant across Retail Banking and Insurance. He holds a Masters from the University of Cambridge. 

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