When you hear the term "reviews," you're probably more inclined to think of write-ups about restaurants than, say, Roth IRAs. But today, online reviews are incredibly important for financial services institutions — especially after the revisions to the SEC advertising rule announced early this year.
You can click here for more general information about the update, but one important impact is that, with the new rules in place, advisors are now permitted to use testimonials or reviews subject to anti-fraud protections and other conditions. This is big news, considering that the vast majority of financial services and insurance customers (80%) say that they consider reviews to be extremely important in their decision process.* American Banker calls this the "Amazon effect," suggesting that banks need to spend a lot more time thinking about their digital experience — and how that can impact their online reviews.
The impact of financial services reviews
When polled about the most important interaction in their purchase journey, Yext customers answered "a referral from a friend or family member," "talking to a financial professional," and "reading reviews online." Surprisingly, there is only a 2% difference between these different interactions.*
In fact, 31% of people go to 7+ places to fact check an organization, financial professional, or product when making an important financial decision. That means that reviews are a critical part of the purchase journey, significantly influencing consumers' business decisions. The stats bear this out: reviews have been shown to produce an average 18% uplift in sales.
Finally, in today's digital world, reviews aren't only a barometer for people — they're a trust signal for search engines. More reviews and higher overall star-ratings have been shown to improve discoverability by way of a better search ranking. You're not only managing your online reputation for humans, but also for the algorithms used by search engines — so that your brand shows up when consumers ask important questions related to financial services. If you're not managing your online reviews, you're missing out on search visibility and valuable clicks.
It's clear that there's a lot at stake for financial services providers when it comes to reviews. But with new opportunities emerging for the industry when it comes to reputation management, what's a business to do?
Reputation management: best practices for financial institutions
Taking control of your reviews can help you build trust, improve visibility, and drive clicks from search results. Here are three simple strategies to help you get started:
1. Monitor your reviews. This might seem obvious, but it makes a big difference in terms of both quickly improving customer satisfaction and preventing fraudulent reviews.
2. Respond to reviews. Businesses in financial services and insurance that take the time to respond to reviews see an average .36 star rating improvement on average when compared to those who don't respond — important for both online reputation and search engine discoverability.
3. Start building a review generation strategy. According to our research, the average rating for Yext financial services customers is 4.08, but Yext financial services customers who generate reviews are rated higher: on average, 4.89 stars, which highlights the impact of generating reviews. When you hear from more of your happy customers, that tends to lead to a higher rating.
Make sure your organization is set up to benefit from this boom by brainstorming a strategy for (responsible) review generation. Another pro-tip: automate this strategy so it activates as soon as customers sign up for an account or a new product — and you can ask them to leave a review at just the right moment.
Ready to learn more about monitoring your reviews to understand and improve your online reputation? Click here.
*Unless otherwise noted, figures are statistical information from Yext research