When many consumers determine where to take their business, they start with a Google search. What will pop up when they search “credit unions in my area” or the name of a specific credit union?
Baton Rouge (La.) Telco Federal Credit Union knows exactly what shows up for potential members in their area. It took an active, ongoing process to get to this point.
Wanting an appealing online presence, the $400 million asset credit union dove into managing its brand about five years ago. Brand reputation management, which HubSpot defines as “the process of monitoring how consumers perceive your business and taking strategic action when necessary to improve your brand’s image,” appealed to the credit union as a way to build social proof in the form of online reviews.
“You need to be able to easily find what your members are saying about doing business with you,” says Kristin Romero, vice president of marketing. “In a crowded marketplace, having strong social proof helps me compete and gain consideration when a prospective member is in the market.”
A 2021 BrightLocal survey found that 77% of consumers “always” or “regularly” read online reviews, 89% are “highly” or “fairly” likely to use a business that responds to its online reviews, and only 3% would consider using a business with an average star rating of two or fewer.
With those numbers in mind, Baton Rouge Telco staff don’t just monitor reviews, they seek out members’ perceptions.
“Our brand reputation management strategy focuses around leveraging our face-to-face interactions with members to curate feedback in the form of online reviews,” Romero says. “What works best for us is to ask for the review at the end of the in-person meeting or at the end of the transaction.”
The teller or loan officer asks members if they’d be willing to receive a text or email from the credit union. The message is sent immediately, and includes a link that goes to an online review form.
The process started when Romero joined the credit union five years ago. After learning about brand reputation management during a CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Conference, she dug deeper into how to use this tool.
Romero wanted to spend more on digital marketing, but first the credit union needed social proof.
Baton Rouge Telco set up a process for staff to ask for reviews. It started with a two-week campaign that paid employees 50 cents for every review they requested, and an additional $1 for every five-star review they received.
“I had tellers requesting more than 600 reviews,” Romero says, proving front-line staff could take on this extra step.
The credit union implemented a requirement for each front-line person to request 10 reviews per month. “Since then, the program has been a complete success,” Romero says.
Baton Rouge Telco started from scratch in July 2018, with almost no reviews on Google or Facebook. Now, the credit union has more than 1,000 reviews across Google, Facebook, and BirdEye.
If a consumer types “credit union reviews Baton Rouge” into Google, Baton Rouge Telco pops up with an overall rating across platforms of 4.8 stars out of 5.
The reviews don’t just attract members. The credit union also uses them to connect with members and staff by displaying reviews on their website, social platforms, and lobby TVs.
Managers also devote time during staff meetings to recognize employees who receive a five-star review.
When the credit union receives a bad review, employees always reply on the platform. They do so for several reasons. If the complaint is legitimate, staff contact the member for more information and fix the problem.
If the complaint isn’t legitimate, staff respond with the correct information, decreasing the complaint’s validity and using the response as a mini public relations effort. Being open and responsive puts the credit union in a good light with current and potential members.
Romero advises having open communication with the operations team so when a negative review comes in, you know how to handle it.
“We’ve been successful at making members happy and they’ve removed negative reviews,” Romero says. “Marketing should have a process in place for responding to reviews. Our platform lets us automate responses to positive reviews, so that’s less manual work for us.”