Customer Ire Can Create Instant, Widespread PR Problem

Friday, October 30, 2009 14:42
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Customer Ire Can Create Instant, Widespread PR Problem

I recently received an e-mail from a professional acquaintance to join a Facebook group he'd created to express his ire at the way he'd been treated by a major U.S. bank in connection with a situation involving one of his accounts. While not uncommon, it illustrates a growing problem in an industry where customer acquisition is a cutthroat business.

 

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Since it's creation, the page that my friend referenced has attracted 178 members, none of whom say anything flattering about the bank. The complaints range from entrepreneurs who say their line of credit was closed despite no late payments to nickel and diming customers that didn't maintain at least $10,000 in combined balances. While it's certainly the bank's prerogative to set policies and decide which customers it desires to have, the rapid spread of information means that financial professionals -- and most any other customer-facing business -- must be constantly monitoring their online reputation so they may respond to crises before they erode the brand.

 

It's true that financial advisors aren't likely to face this level of vitriol since their client base tends to be locally-based and much more loyal than a typical commercial bank. However it's to the advantage of every advisor to do anything possible to engender loyalty. From a PR perspective, one of the most useful tools to do this are newsletters. While many advisors do use newsletters, all too often they contain canned content with nothing particularly relevant to their client base.

This approach may certainly be cheaper, but it does little to increase the value of your brand. A good newsletters should contain things like personal messages from the advisor that reflect the current market environment and address many of the things on the minds of your clients. If you offer any sort of custom index for your clients, include information on its performance over the past quarter and how that compares to the major indices that are relevant. These are just a couple of things that can be done to greatly increases the value of newsletters, but the possibilities are many.

Another great approach is to invite feedback and content suggestions from your readers. This will make your newsletters take on more of a "community" feel, which will greatly increase their relevance and impact.

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