Jacqueline Dewey is CEO of Smart Money People, the UK’s largest financial services review site.
The modern consumer has access to a wealth of opinions on almost anything they can buy, and research shows that nine out of ten customers read reviews before purchasing a product. Many even trust these reviews as much as they would a recommendation from a friend – and probably rightly so!.
When we consider that trust within the financial services industry is arguably more important than within almost any other business sector, it becomes clear that customer reviews are one of the most powerful items in your company’s toolkit. They can have a much wider-reaching impact than you might think, affecting not just sales, but reputation, marketing, operations and customer service too.
Here’s three ways gathering and sharing customer reviews can make a difference to your business.
Whether you’re a mortgage lender, insurance provider, bank, credit card, or loan company, financial products are usually a considered purchase, and where an ongoing financial commitment is involved, customers need to be able to trust a provider.
Reading reviews from others who have used your services helps prospective customers feel more confident they are choosing a credible provider. But more than this, people also simply expect to see them – a complete lack of reviews may actually be more of a red flag than the occasional not-so-positive review. The social proof that reviews offer is reassuring, and many customers will opt for a business that does have realistic reviews over one that doesn’t.
What’s also worth bearing in mind is that many of these people searching for reviews are looking for validation. Often they’ll already have an idea of what company they’re thinking of choosing and are simply doing their due diligence, so the least you can do is provide them with the endorsements that help confirm they’re making the right decision.
Provides valuable insights
Reviews needn’t just be about attracting new customers, but can, and should, be used to make improvements across your business.
Your customer reviews are a great opportunity to understand where your business is performing well and where it isn’t quite so strong. It can expose a disconnect between certain teams or it might highlight improvements that can be made to your claims process, or customer service policy for example. This is invaluable and will help you retain customers as well as attract new ones.
It’s good practice to acknowledge and respond to feedback when customers do leave reviews, as it demonstrates that you care about offering a good experience. It is, however, usually best practice to consider leaving a short reply inviting the reviewer to discuss the details with you in a more private channel when it comes to negative comments.
Supports your marketing strategy
Reviews get your brand in front of potential customers, shape their opinions of you, and reach your audience at different stages of their journey, so it makes sense for them to be part of your marketing strategy.
The benefit they have over more traditional marketing channels is of course that they’re more believable. There is often little to differentiate financial services companies when it comes to the marketing messages and promises made, but giving prospective customers the opportunity to read independent and unbiased experiences gives them reassurance you are someone they’d like to do business with, and ultimately helps to increase conversion rates for enquiries.
Reviews are also really powerful for SEO too and can influence your organic search positions, as well as improve your CTR, as including your customer reviews in your titles and meta descriptions of your organic search listings entices more clicks.
Customer reviews are something that in 2022, no financial services brand should be without. Companies can sometimes be hesitant to open up this kind of feedback channel, as the very nature of it means you can’t predict what people say, however, remember that many review sites allow people to leave reviews without a direct invite, so it’s impossible to entirely prevent negative reviews online anyway.
By taking control of your reviews and proactively asking customers to give their feedback, you’ll show a balanced customer opinion and most consumers are savvy enough to understand that you can’t please everyone all the time.
Ultimately, even if you don’t have customer reviews, your competitors will, and this could be where your audience ends up turning to, so if you’re not already asking for customer reviews, there’s no better time to start than now.