The Voice of Canadian Credit Unions
Marketing /  •

The Yelp factor

Controlling your online rep has become increasingly crucial – and complex

manage your online reputation

Less than two decades ago, Google didn’t exist. Today, it holds a place of honour in the dictionary – a verb that most of us use in daily conversation. We google just about everything, from reviews of the car we’re thinking of buying to the location of the nearest vet.

What pops up on the screen has a profound impact on decisionmaking, so your credit union has a problem if that first page of search results links to erroneous information or less-than-stellar reviews. That’s why, in a competitive business climate, taking ownership of your online reputation is vital.

Get back to basics

First things first. To manage your reputation, be proprietary. You know you should keep your branded social media accounts active and up-to-date, but that’s the bare minimum.

In a competitive business climate, taking ownership of your online reputation is vital

Don’t assume people will be going to your website, Twitter feed or Facebook page first. Every branch should have its address, hours of operation and essential particulars regularly amended on Yelp, Google My Business profiles and other sites that potential members might use, such as Foursquare or Yahoo! Local. “[You don’t want to make your] customers’ lives harder by forcing them to search for basic info,” explains Crystal Henrickson, a former Yelp community manager who runs her own community management strategies business.

Use monitoring tools

Simplify the online monitoring process. At the very least, your credit union should set up a Google alert for every branch to let you know when it is mentioned online and to keep you in the loop. As well, once you unlock your business profiles on major sites such as Yelp, most will automatically send a notification if you’re reviewed. Bigger credit unions looking for more sophisticated approaches can find them too, says Anthony Johndrow, chief enterprise strategy officer at Reputation.com. His firm employs software that allows companies to monitor, analyze and respond to reviews through one platform.

Accentuate the positive

It’s human nature: people tend to post online reviews when they’re not happy. That’s a bad scenario, says Johndrow. Yes, you must respond in a timely way to negative comments, but credit unions must also be proactive by encouraging satisfied customers to have their say. “If they’re really happy, you can publish their testimonials on your own website, but you might also encourage them to share their experiences online on third-party sites,” he says.

Captivate with your critics

The strength of a credit union is in its local reputation. Play to that by using your online presence to represent your brand’s personality. “You can humanize your credit union and have fun even when responding to complaints,” says Henrickson. She explains that when a recent customer complained to Netflix about how the Star Wars movies were being presented, the customer service rep answered the criticism in “Star Wars–speak.” A credit union can’t be quite so off-the-cuff, but it can take a very personal approach. “Whenever there’s an online complaint, see it as an opportunity to engage,” counsels Henrickson. “It’s your chance to win people over, right any wrongs that might have happened and to learn something.” ◊