Restoring consumer trust in banks

Research has shown that online reputation has played a vital role in restoring consumer trust in the UK banking sector.

Trust in the UK banking sector

The UK baBanksnking sector has been hit by a number of incidents which have eroded the public’s trust of commercial financial institutions. The 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer indicates that public trust in the UK banking industry hit a low of 21% in 2012.

A study by auditors KPMG, indicated that the decrease of trust in the UK banking industry has cost it financially. The research proved that various banking scandals such as the mis-sale of Payment Protection Insurance cost the sector 60% of its total profit from 2011 – 2014, according to Sky News.

The release of the EY Global Consumer Banking Survey 2014 proved that confidence in the banking industry is returning. This report indicated that 33% of consumers gained confidence in the sector in 2013. Meanwhile only 19% lost confidence within the same period, a dramatic reduction from 40% in 2012.

How are banks building trust?

The research went on to outline how banks are restoring public trust in the financial sector. The paper showed that “financial stability” and “the way I am treated” were the top two reasons cited by respondents for why they had decided to place “complete trust” in their primary financial services provider (PFSP).

The EY research also argued that consumers value the reputation of their PFSP, and use it as a benchmark to determine whether the bank in question deserves their trust. Respondents said that reputation was a “very important” factor in whether they decided to place trust in their PFSP.

Finding banks online

EY asked respondents to name the “most important information sources used when searching for” a PFSP. The most important source was a bank’s website, which was cited by 38% of people. Meanwhile, 15% of respondents said that social media was the most important information source used when searching for a PFSP.

Banks need to utilise these online tools to build consumer trust. Consumers value these assets, so they can be used as an outreach tool to develop the positive reputation a bank needs to facilitate consumer trust. Furthermore, if a bank doesn’t actively take control of its online assets, others could use them against it to damage its reputation online.

Banks and Google

Official websites and social media accounts are trusted sources of information by Google. Therefore, it’s highly likely your target consumer will use the search engine to find your bank’s website and social media accounts. If a user types the name of your bank into Google and they find unwanted content on the first page of the search, this will damage your reputation and decrease customer trust.

This is what happened to the Bank of America in 2013, when activist Mark Hamilton shared his displeasure with the institution on Twitter. This prompted a slew of unwanted tweets from other consumers, ensuring the incident caught the attention of international press and ranked on Google searches for the Bank of America.

Building your bank’s online reputation

If you don’t want to be like the Bank of America, you need to take control of your firm’s online assets and build its reputation online. Here are several ways you can do so:

  • Optimise your assets: When a potential customer searches your bank’s name on Google, you want them to find your official assets e.g. website. Therefore you need to optimise your assets’ content, so that they appear in the first page of a search for your financial institution’s name on Google.
  • Create fresh, relevant content: The Google algorithm ensures that the most useful information ranks in the first page of a Google search. Therefore you need to ensure that your bank’s online assets are updated with fresh, relevant content, which is highly prized by Google.
  • Provide good customer service: Remember that “the way I am treated” was the top reason consumers placed complete trust in their PFSP. You need to provide good customer service as if you don’t, your target consumer won’t trust you, and they’ll take their displeasure online to ensure other people don’t trust you.
  • Respond effectively: Almost half of EY respondents said that “how they (the bank) communicates with me” was a major factor in determining whether they decided to place complete trust in their PFSP. Another 38% said the same of “problem resolution/complaint handling.” If a customer complains about your bank on social media, respond and turn unwanted content into a reputational asset.
  • Release positive press: If you release positive PR you do two things. You show consumers why they should trust you, and you do so via a format that Google sees as a trusted source of information, making it an effective online reputation management tool.

Online reputation management

The UK banking industry has started to rebuild consumer trust, however past scandals linger in the minds of potential consumers. You need to ensure that your bank develops a positive reputation online and offline if you want build trust.

For more information on reputation management please contact me on tel: +44 (0) 203 542 8689 or email in confidence.


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