User-generated content is one of the best forms of marketing and the perfect way to build brand trust and loyalty. For financial services businesses, which depend heavily on consumer trust, leveraging the authentic voice of the customer is key to future growth and success.
Consumer trust and loyalty go hand in hand. After all, if consumers trust your brand, they’re more likely to purchase from you again. Building trust in the digital age can be difficult for any brand, but it’s particularly challenging for those in the finance industry.
Unsurprisingly, trust in the sector plummeted after the 2008 financial crash – a low from which it has never fully recovered. Even now, consumers are 50% more likely to say their level of trust in financial services providers has fallen over the last three years, while just 17% say they trust financial institutions in a time of crisis. Yet, trust is imperative if you expect customers to share potentially sensitive or confidential information with you. It even ranks higher than price (45% vs 43%) when it comes to choosing a bank.
At the same time, the fintech revolution and subsequent surge in digital finance companies means modern consumers have more choice than ever. As a result, consumer loyalty is falling and finance-related businesses are having to work harder to attract and retain customers.
So exactly how can finance brands cut through the noise and build trust and loyalty in an increasingly crowded marketplace? As many businesses are discovering, user-generated content is the magic bullet they’ve been looking for.
Social proof and the power of the customer voice
Still plagued by scepticism of the finance industry, savvy consumers have lost trust in traditional advertising. Instead, they’re seeking social proof in the form of user-generated content such as unbiased customer reviews, ratings, testimonials and videos. In fact, research shows that 76% of individuals admit they’re more likely to trust content shared by ‘normal’ people than content shared by brands.
The digital equivalent of word of mouth, consumer ratings and reviews are now one of the main drivers of trust. In a Trustpilot survey, 61% of consumers said ratings and reviews were ‘very important’ or ‘important’ when choosing finance-related products and services. This is second only to a company’s own website (68%). At the other end of the scale, TV and online advertising were considered to be important sources of information by just 28% and 27% of people respectively.
It's no surprise then that finance companies are choosing to put third-party ratings and reviews at the heart of their marketing strategy. With 75% of people saying that positive consumer ratings would make them more likely to become a customer of a bank, the power of the consumer voice is clear.
But it’s not just new fintech brands that are capitalising on this potential. Even established finance providers are turning to review platforms to bolster consumer trust and loyalty. “The big brands are probably just waking up to the power of reviews, now that they tend to be used a lot more by challengers and disruptors to show the public how trustworthy they are,” says Neil Costello, Head of Marketing at Atom Bank.
“The trouble is, they may well have received far too many bad reviews in the past that are holding back their averages and they may be worried by more coming in, which they are not set up to deal with”.
4 Ways user-generated content can help finance brands build loyalty
It can cost around five times as much to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. Therefore, anything you can do to encourage consumer loyalty will pay dividends in the long run.
Modern consumers might not be as loyal but that doesn’t mean you can’t retain their business – you just need to know how. A well-planned marketing strategy that utilises the authentic voice of the customer can attract and retain even the most sceptical consumers. Not convinced? Here are four ways user-generated content like reviews and ratings can help you to build trust, loyalty and, ultimately, increase sales.
1. Customer reviews prove you’re credible and trustworthy
Although the finance industry is heavily regulated by the FCA, prospective customers will still want reassurance that you’re a credible enterprise. After all, they’re trusting you with their finances so it’s only natural for them to be cautious. This is especially true if you’re an online-only business with no physical bricks-and-mortar presence.
Showcasing real, honest customer reviews is a great way to alleviate consumers’ concerns and demonstrate you’re a legitimate business that can be trusted to handle their finances. It's one of the main reasons why Smart Currency Exchange feature ratings prominently on their website. The company helps people send money overseas and is often used by customers who are spending their nest egg on a dream property abroad.
“For people to know we’re highly rated is crucial when it comes to such an emotional purchase using their life savings,” says the company’s Digital Marketing Manager, Ricky Bean. “It’s why we have our Trustpilot score front and centre on our home page.”
2. User content shows you’ve got nothing to hide
Being open and transparent about your services and business operations is crucial if you want to build trust and earn customers’ loyalty. It’s a sentiment shared by many fintech companies, with two-thirds (66%) of those surveyed by London Research and Trustpilot strongly agreeing that a reputation for openness is crucial for their brand.
There’s no better way of transparently showing the public what other consumers think of you than proudly displaying authentic customer reviews and ratings across your marketing channels. It shows you’ve got nothing to hide and can help to quash any worries or doubts consumers might have.
3. Responding to reviews shows you care
Taking the time to respond to reviews shows customers you care, which is crucial if you want to build loyalty and encourage repeat business. Engaging in client conversations is also a good way to establish a personal connection and show the human side of your business. Customers won’t be worried about loyalty if they view your company as a faceless corporation that’s only interested in the bottom line.
Of course, how you respond to reviews is also key. In a Trustpilot survey of over 1,000 consumers, 25% of people said how well companies respond to criticism can help to transition them from detractors to customer advocates. It goes to show that even negative reviews (when handled in the right way) can turn an unhappy customer into a long-term client.
4. You can use reviews to improve the customer experience
Not all reviews and ratings will be positive, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Negative reviews not only show the positive ones are genuine, but they can also give you valuable insight into your customers’ experiences. You can then use this feedback to identify areas for improvement, rectify problems and provide a better overall service.
It's understandable to be nervous about potentially showcasing negative feedback to the world. But by viewing consumer insights as an opportunity rather than a threat, your customer service will improve and you’ll soon see brand loyalty increase.
These are just some of the ways user-generated content can help finance businesses build brand trust and loyalty. If you’d like more information and advice, read our guide – Building trust in financial services.