Online reviewers can be fickle. Sometimes, their only feedback in a lifetime of membership depends solely on their last interaction with the credit union. Case in point: Last year, a member gave a five-star rating on Facebook to Heritage Federal Credit Union ($590.0M, Newburgh, IN), proclaiming “Heritage Federal is the only bank I’ll ever use.”
Holly Smith, VP of Marketing, Heritage Federal Credit Union
Less than two weeks later, after failing to get a timely call back from the credit union, the member changed her review to one star, noting “if I could give zero stars, I would.”
All was not lost, however. After a response from the credit union on Facebook, a private message, and a call from a manager, the member changed her rating back to five stars, saying, “I’ll gladly admit when I am wrong … Tim treated me like a had $1 million in the account.”
Not all scathing online reviews have storybook endings, but according to Heritage vice president of marketing Holly Smith, there are a few things a credit union can do to push the narrative that way.
CU QUICK FACTS
HQ: Newburgh, IN
Data as of 09.30. 18
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 2.6%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 10.7%
“We go back by direct message and ask them to change their rating if they are satisfied and feel like we’re a five-star institution,” Smith says. “About 80% of the time, people will go back and change their rating.”
True, online reviews account for a fraction of overall complaints that come in through email boxes and phone call, and negative reviews account for only a small percentage of all reviews; however, some can be critical or even linger online for years. And, too many bad reviews can drive away members. According to Vendasta Marketing, 90% of consumers only consider purchasing from a business with a three-star rating or higher.
Actively monitoring and interacting with both good and bad reviewers is an essential part of managing the credit union brand. Here are some tips on the best approaches for managing those interactions and turning around relationships.
1. Nurture And Reward Positive Reviewers — Sometimes, They’re The Best Allies
It’s a numbers game. Credit unions need a continuous pipeline of positive reviews to offset the negative ones. Many of these come organically from members praising outstanding services in a branch or celebrating a life moment like buying a car.
Gwynn Deaver, VP of Marketing, Firstmark Credit Union
“If you hear a member tell a story about their positive experience with the credit union, ask them to post a review online or on social media,” says Gwynn Deaver, vice president of marketing at Firstmark Credit Union ($1.0B, San Antonio, TX).
And remember that every positive online interaction is a chance to educate other viewers, including potential new members, about the credit union’s brand.
“We always thank them for being a member-owner,” Smith says. “‘We’re awesome because of members like you!’”
Of course, giveaways and member appreciation events are also tools to drive positive reviews. For the past two years, Ent Credit Union ($5.5B, Colorado Springs, CO) has run a twice yearly #loveent social media campaign wherein members can qualify to win free gasoline for a year. This past year, Ent also offered free coffee and T-shirts available in person at service centers.
CU QUICK FACTS
HQ: San Antonio, TX
Data as of 09.30.18
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: -1.3%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 0.3%
“We wanted to give back to the members in a way that impacted their lives,” says Amy Krasikov, director of marketing operations at Ent. “We wanted a giveaway that would improve their finances. We thought we were signing it as you would a card, ‘Love, Ent.’ The members turned it around in such a fantastic way and chose to share how they loved us.”
It also helps for the credit union to respond to positive reviews and nurture brand advocates online. These loyal members might very well respond to a negative review and jump to the credit union’s defense with something like, “I’ve never had that experience before.”
“Not every post can be replied to,” Krasikov says. “Some posts, by the way the statement is posed, are a lose-lose for the credit union. When these posts occur, we often let members respond on our behalf.”
2. Keep An Eye Out For All Reviews — And Respond Immediately
Facebook has emerged as the top channel for social media engagement for credit unions, so Facebook reviews often have high visibility. As such, credit unions need to monitor all Facebook pages related to their organization. A Facebook page might have been created years ago and long forgotten, or Facebook might have created a rogue business page that the credit union doesn’t even know about.
Amy Krasikov, Director of Marketing Operations, Ent Credit Union
“Our average member age is 44,” says Ent’s Krasikov. “Facebook has been skewing to this age group, and we have a solid reach into our membership and potential membership leveraging this tool.”
Other key review sites include Yelp and Google Places, which allow reviewers to comment on individual branch locations. However, negative reviews and posts can also appear on a variety of other sites including Twitter, LinkedIn, Zillow (related to mortgage lending experiences), and even Angie’s List. Still more reviews about working at the credit union can be found on employment sites such a Glassdoor and Indeed.
One of the key strategies for mitigating negative reviews is responding immediately.
CU QUICK FACTS
HQ: Colorado Springs, CO
Data as of 09.30.18
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 9.0%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 13.4%
“We try to resolve it on the same day,” says Heritage FCU’s Smith. “Having that immediate response out there is important for other members to see.”
To keep track of all of the places reviews could live on the web, some credit unions rely on tools that aggregate online content. Earlier this year, Heritage FCU began using CUBrandMonitor from Callahan & Associates to keep track of these social properties.
“Facebook is easy because they have push notifications, and Twitter does, too,” Smith says. “But if I don’t think to check Zillow, I don’t know if we have a new comment. CUBrandMonitor gives us a push notification from all of those platforms and also notifies us if there’s a photo we’ve been tagged in on our Google listings. It helps us prioritize things to keep on our to-do list and gives us peace of mind.”
The transparency of Facebook reviews — both good and bad — helps build brand loyalty, but does it ever make sense to turn them off?