E46: Customer Reviews, Private Communities and the Marketing Flywheel in Banking

A discussion on modern digital marketing and how private communities and customer referrals and reviews are a stronger component than ever.

Michael Reynolds Hey, everyone. Welcome to the podcast today. Glad you've joined us. Good morning, Allison.

Allison Gibbs Good morning.

MR How are you?

AG I'm fantastic. How are you?

MR Doing well. So you had your Harry Potter Snuggie on earlier. Did you --

AG Well, I still have it on. I still have it on, yes.

MR Oh, okay.

AG I just needed to move around a little more.

MR Oh, okay. Gotcha.

AG It's very cold.

MR I know you like to keep the office at 77 degrees if you could.

AG Well, I do, but --

MR Luckily, we don't allow that.

AG I was going to say every time the guys are in the office, it's always a little bit of an ice box. But that's okay. I've got my Harry Potter Snuggie. That's why I have it. And everything's good.

MR Glad to hear it. All right. So today, the universe is telling us to talk about customer service and how it relates to the overall scope of the marketing, sales, and customer service wheel, so to speak. And I say wheel because HubSpot, who we like to work with -- we use their software, we use their CRM, their marketing automation -- frequently does a really good job of packaging concepts that the industry in general's been talking about. Recently, they've come out with this adaptation to the marketing funnel, which as we know is not really a funnel and has never been a funnel, but a lot of people call it a funnel. And they're calling it a flywheel now. Those who aren't familiar with the marketing funnel that HubSpot and others have been talking about for a while, the funnel concept is the top of the funnel is this huge, big pit where people come in as leads, the middle of the funnel is where a fewer number of leads turn into nurture-able leads or sales opportunities, and the bottom of the funnel is where they turn into customers or members and that the sale happens. And then we just go back to the top, and it's a very -- you said it yourself -- a very linear process, right?

AG Yeah. It just seemed to be here's the starting point, here's the start line, and here's the finish line. And as soon as you hit the finish line, then you grab your finish line snacks. If you're a runner you know what I'm talking about --

MR And then go right back to the beginning, right? Yeah.

AG Yeah, you finish your snacks and you just kind of go off into the abyss. Nobody really does anything, I don't think, from a retention perspective.

MR Yeah and so I find these -- in addition to this, you posted some things on our Slack channel this week about Google reviews and the evolution of Google reviews and what they're doing. There's been a lot of chatter recently, as well, about private communities, and so they all kind of fit together into today's theme today, I think, which is how referral marketing has evolved and how we can use digital tools and the tools we have available today to really strengthen this concept of referral marketing. One thing that HubSpot has done is they have, again, taken this marketing funnel and illustrated it differently in the form of a wheel. They call it the marketing flywheel, right?

AG Yes, they do.

MR Is that kind of the terminology they're using?

AG Yep.

MR We like to affectionately make fun of HubSpot sometimes. We love them, but they also are -- they have this habit -- which they're really good at; kudos to them. They're really good at taking this concept that has been brewing in the communities for a while and then saying hey, we're going to take that and package it and make it shiny. So they've done that. They've turned the marketing funnel into a marketing flywheel, which what they're doing is they've connected the marketing, sales, and customer service components of an organization into this circular indefinite loop that continues to enhance and improve all components together.

One example of that is you've got a lead coming into your bank, someone's looking for a car loan or a mortgage or an account or something. They maybe talked to someone in the business development department, works with them, sets them up as a new customer or new member. And then what happens after that? You go through a process of nurturing them after the sale, making sure they're happy, trying to make sure that they have a good experience. That in turn, turns them into a marketing asset because they can then turn around and become advocates for your bank and really help become a part of your marketing system. So I think this really applies really well in the banking industry because so much of our business is local or geographic. And so a lot of banks and credit unions are looking for ways to connect with their community better. You've seen that a lot where people are coming to us saying how do we embed ourselves more in the community, right?

AG Yeah. That's probably a number one priority -- I should say number one priority. It's a top priority for -- definitely for community banks and credit unions. Absolutely.

MR So let's jump straight to actually what Google's done first.

AG Yeah, sure.

MR Google has changed how they are -- or they've updated how they're handling Google reviews. I know a lot of banks, especially the community and the regional banks, are -- they're getting reviews on their service through Google or Facebook or other sources. And Google reviews has updated how they handle this. What they have done is they have -- they're now sending notification via email to anyone who receives a response from a business. So if your bank gets a review on Google and you then respond to that review -- maybe it's someone they weren't happy with your service. You can respond and say something like oh, I'm so sorry you had that experience. That's not the norm for us. Here's how we can fix this. Or here's an explanation of why this happened. Something that shows you care. That customer will then get an email response that you replied to them.

So why is that important? Well, like many people, maybe that particular customer works with more than one bank. Maybe they work with the credit union down the street, they work with the community bank over here, maybe they've got another account somewhere else, and maybe they left a review on two or three of them, all these banks they work with at various times in their, I guess, relationship. If you're the one that leaves a response to them and says oh, let me see if we can make this right; let me follow up, and the other banks don't reply at all, you're the one that looks like you care. That's important because often people are just looking for someone to care, right? They just want someone to pay attention.

AG Yeah, I was just going to say they just want to be heard. I think that in a lot of cases, when you're angry and you are feeling so emotional that you -- and you're feeling to the level that you feel like you have to go leave a review, you’re probably pretty angry at that point.

MR Yeah, it takes some effort to do that.

AG It takes effort to do that. I hardly ever leave negative reviews or contact customer service via an online form. But when I do, I expect a response or at least an acknowledgment that hey, something was messed up here, and these are the steps we are going to take to fix it.

MR Yeah, so I think a lot of this is just paying attention. A lot of time, good marketing is sometimes as simple as just paying attention. Right off the bat, if you're thinking okay, how do I immediately start to improve this cycle, one is make sure someone is paying attention to your reviews. Make sure someone is monitoring your Google reviews, for example, to see when people actually leave some kind of response. Sometimes we ask our clients hey, who’s monitoring that, and they're like really, I don't even know if we even have any reviews. And then we look and they have all these reviews. How do you make sure someone's paying attention to that and what is the process for responding? Yeah, go ahead.

AG I'm going to do a little plug for a software here because Moz Local --

MR Oh yeah, Moz.

AG Yeah. So Moz has a software that is specifically geared toward local SEO, which is something that is going to be of interest to any bank or credit union or financial institution that has locations, which is most of you, right? This can help you mange all of your location information, your individual location information, and it can also help you manage your reviews. You can even go through your review status. You can see which ones have been replied to; which ones have not been replied to. You can start a really solid customer service experience and process with this software. It does cost money. It's based off of your location --

MR It costs money? Oh no.

AG It does. It does. Worth it. Worth it. It's so worth it because it does so much --

MR How much is it?

AG You know, it's based off of location --

MR Like $99 a month?

AG No. I can't -- I knew you were going to ask me that.

MR I feel like they had pricing on their website.

AG I know I'm trying to find it really fast.

MR Oh, look. They do. There it is.

AG I want to say it was $70 per location maybe for the starter package? $40?

MR $99 per location.

AG Oh, it is $99 per location --

MR For the essential --

AG Yeah.

MR But still worth it. I mean, it's a nice dashboard it looks like from -- I didn't realize how nice that dashboard looked.

AG And I know it sounds like a lot of money, but when you think about the amount of time that it takes to manage all of your listings and all of your Google My Business pages, the efficiencies that are created with a software like this I think is well worth it.

MR Nice.

AG Yeah, I always recommend it anytime we have an opportunity with multiple locations where local SEO is going to be important.

MR Yeah. So what are some other ways we strengthen -- again, we're looking at the three components. And the way that HubSpot describes it is the marketing, sales, and customer service components of this wheel -- so the three areas to focus on that improve all areas of your marketing. What are some other ways we focus on the customer service angle? One thing that I always think of is how do we remove friction between the marketing and sales linking into customer service? I'm asking you, Allison. Because you look like you have --

MR You are asking me --

MR -- a thought in your head.

AG No, I don't. Well, I'm trying to follow your thought right now. The linking of sales and customer --

MR Well, we talk about marketing and sales alignment a lot --

AG Yes.

MR -- so what's customer service and marketing alignment look like?

AG Oh, okay.

MR So one thing I think of is --

AG I'm with you.

MR -- the live chat on the website linking to creating a support issue for the customer service team to follow up on. Sometimes it's very cumbersome. People will have to call the bank if they have an issue, they will wait on hold, they will get frustrated working through auto attendants, and it can be very frustrating. Or some people just -- a lot of millennials have this stereotype of not wanting to talk on the phone, right? I mean, you hate talking on the phone, right?

AG I really hate talking on the phone.

MR Allison and Nathan are both shaking their head.

AG Which is so interesting because I have no problem having a conversation with people, but there is something about that phone.

MR What is is about the phone that millennials hate? [laughs] I just don't get it.

AG You know, I just -- I don't know what it is. A lot of people would say well, it's because you don't like talking to people. Well that's not true because I love having a good conversation --

MR Yeah, because you can talk.

AG -- don't I, Nathan? [laughs] I love having a conversation.

MR So what is it about the phone? I don't get it.

AG I don't know. I have no clue. [indiscernible] hold it --

MR But you know you're not alone.

AG Yes.

MR You are -- I would go out on a limb here and say you are the norm --

AG Yeah, I'm definitely the norm.

MR -- for your age group for people not wanting to talk on the phone. They just don't want to do it. Right off the bat, if the primary method of your customers or members for getting customer service is picking up the phone and talking to you, right off the bat, if you're trying to target millennials, you've -- there's a disconnect right off the bat. But what if you had live chat on your banking website where a millennial like Allison, for example, could go to your website and open up a quick live chat with someone, a real, live person who said hey, how can I help you? And you said, well, I've got a problem with my account, and they could actually answer your question or escalate that into a support ticket by gathering information on the front end, proactively gathering the right information and making it a quicker resolution. That is a great way to connect a sales or marketing tool that is really turning into a customer service tool when it needs to. That's one example of -- you're always talking about, Allison, about meeting people where they are, right?

AG Yes, absolutely. Yes. You have to -- people, they want to -- they just want to hang out where they want to hang out. They don't want to have to be taken out of their comfort zone. And part of that whole talking on the phone, I want to hang out where I want to hang out. Honestly, just as a side note, I'd rather Facetime than call somebody.

MR Really?

AG Yes. It's the face-to-face interaction, I think.

MR You want to be face to face.

AG Um-hum. When people think of millennials, they think that oh, we just want to text; we just want to email. That's not necessarily true. It's the face-to-face interaction.

MR Hmm. Interesting.

AG So anyhoo, we just want to be met where we are at and where we want to hang out. And so part of that customer service journey is ensuring that your customers can get ahold of you on their terms. I know we've talked about transparency before and having the content on the website, but the same thing goes with transparency within reviews as well. So as we mentioned at the top of the show, that now Google has the two-way response, where the person leaving the review now receives a response any time that the owner, that Google owner responds -- that the owner responds or whoever's designated as the owner of that location. So it's now expected that you're going to respond to reviews. I think that going along with that, it's asking people for feedback, which I don't think we do a lot of because I think people are scared of --

MR It's scary. What if they don't like us? [laughs]

AG -- but that's how you get better.

MR I know.

AG There's a whole Broadway song about that --

MR I'm being sarcastic --

AG -- about how things get better when you take a step and you take a leap and you --

MR There is?

AG Yes. I won't sing it for you right now.

MR What show?

AG Newsies.

MR I've heard you talk about Newsies.

AG Yeah, yeah, anyway. So it's called "Watch What Happens." You can listen to it. It's only about 2 1/2 minutes.

MR I'm sure you'll sing it to me sometimes.

AG I certainly will because it's been running through my head now. That's how things get better is by -- we get our feedback and we get all that information. Going back to the original question of bridging the gap between marketing, sales, and customer service, in some cases, it's just opening up the line of communication between the two teams. Maybe they don't feel empowered -- maybe the customer service team doesn't feel empowered to communicate directly with the marketing team. I know that our customer support team on our end has provided a ton of valuable information to us as a sales and marketing team here based on customer feedback. Questions that they're always asking, pointing out opportunities to us where they say, you know, they're asking me questions about this, maybe they might be interested or maybe they might need help with something else here. So it's starting to train people to look for those opportunities of so now we're in the customer service role, we want to help them, we want to solve their problems -- that's obviously the number one opportunity -- but where can we go from here? Now have we talked about member onboarding, like a 90-day onboarding --

MR Yeah, a few weeks ago.

AG We have talked about that. Okay. I couldn't remember --

MR We talked about how --

AG We talk about so much stuff, just the two of us, and I'm like did we say that on the podcast?

MR Were we on the air or not? Yeah, it was the context of -- the question was how do we upsell during 90 days onboarding? And we were like instead of upselling, let's try to create a good experience, which can be a more long-term, better investment.

AG Yes. So I think that that goes into this whole concept that your customers are a really valuable opportunity for you in order to either one, turn them into a referral source, which is incredibly valuable, or to upsell them in the future and continue having you be their financial institution of choice.

MR You know what? So many times we will not be able to attribute the referral to anything visible because they make recommendations in private communities like Facebook groups.

AG Yep.

MR We see a lot of people -- a ton of my friends are -- they hate Facebook especially with what's going on now with the politics and the data breaches. I mean, some people just hate Facebook now. But they're on Facebook for one reason, groups, right?

AG Oh, I love Facebook groups.

MR Yeah.

AG I love a good Facebook group.

MR I'm in a number of Facebook groups and they're really, really enjoyable. They're really high quality. We do a lot of smart interaction. It's like-minded people. So a lot of private communities, whether it's Facebook groups or LinkedIn groups or Slack -- I have a lot of Slack teams that I'm in that are really, really high-value. A lot of different tools are available to create private communities where that's a lot of where referrals are happening.

I actually talked to someone recently that was a lead for us and we got the lead from someone who recommended us in a private Facebook group that I never saw. I will never be able to have -- my marketing automation system will never be able to track that. But someone had a good experience with us and we made ourselves easy to refer. We were easy to refer because we have a great website with lots of tools and content and information. We have things that are -- we have features on our site that make it easy to find our podcast for example. It's really easy for people to refer us because we have that availability in a digital space. And so we won't see it from a software standpoint, but we know that happened as a result because of what we were told, and that happens a lot through private communities. A lot of people discount anything they can't measure. We've talked about this before, right? A lot of people get obsessed with the measurement and the ROI and they're kind of blind to the stuff you can't measure, right?

AG Yeah. You can't see me rolling my eyes right now, but --

MR [laughs]

AG -- there are some components to marketing that will never be a perfect measurement. We could set up tracking links and UTM parameters -- I mean we could set up all kinds of things to track it the best that we can, but there are just some things that will never happen that way.

MR Yeah.

AG And that's okay. That's okay.

MR You have to have the inspiration to acknowledge that, though. And that can be hard in banking sometimes because banking's all about data and numbers. And so if you're in marketing in a bank or credit union, sometimes it can be a tough, uphill battle to say well, we should do this anyway even if we can't measure it. We should improve our connection with customer service and try to generate more referrals using these methods, and maybe we can never measure them, but we should do it anyway because we can see the vision. That can be a tough battle to fight sometimes.

AG I mean, I'm going to use our podcast as an example. We can't always attribute everything back, but we constantly hear -- we've heard several times this week that the podcast is how people found us --

MR Yeah.

AG -- and you can't always track that back.

MR It's really, really hard to measure.

AG It's very hard to -- we have certain pieces of data, number of downloads, demographics, location, we've got some pretty high-level information, but as far as the specific -- as far as who it is and where they came from, that's pretty hard to track.

MR Yeah.

AG -- at this point in time. I believe that there will be an integration with one of these systems at some point in time.

MR [laughs] I believe.

AG Just going to put it out there in the universe, HubSpot, if you're listening.

MR HubSpot's listening. They're usually first --

AG I know you're listening to me. [laughs]

MR -- to listen to this kind of stuff. Well, anything else you would add? I want to wrap up with a note on reviews for us. But anything you want to add to our list before we wrap up?

AG Yeah, I want to give -- is it okay if I give an example of a bank that I've seen do really well with responding to reviews?

MR Yeah, please.

AG This is the Citizens Bank of Edmond. And I may have mentioned them before in the past when talking about Facebook and social media marketing and how social media shouldn't be scary. One thing that I want to point out about them is that they always respond to every single review, positive or negative. Even when they are getting ripped apart, which some of these reviews are not kind -- a lot of them are positive. They've got a pretty huge -- pretty high review, 7.8 out of 10.

MR On Google?

AG No, I'm looking at Facebook right now.

MR Okay. I see 4.3 on Facebook out of 5.

AG I see 7.8. Anyways --

MR Facebook?

AG Um-hum.

MR That's weird.

AG I bet you and I are looking at something totally different.

MR I'm looking at --

AG No, huh-uh. When you click on Reviews on the side -- click on Reviews. Right now we're looking at the Facebook portal on our desktop where you can look at the different tabs on the left-hand side. So click on Reviews. Do you see 7.8 out of 10? Oh my gosh, I see something totally different. Isn't that crazy?

MR Are we looking at the same bank?

AG Yeah.

MR Okay.

AG Yeah, it's so crazy.

MR Weird. We'll investigate that.

AG I know. It's probably because I'm a millennial, and we roll out features to me first. [laughs]

MR [Laughs] Well played.

AG Proof that Facebook is always changing stuff. Michael and I don't even see the same things on Facebook. Okay so anyhoo. They have a lot of positive reviews, but for their negative reviews, the brand responds, but also the president and CEO responds personally every single time --

MR Wow. That is almost unheard of.

AG -- and if it is a negative review, she even leaves her cell phone number right there for people to call.

MR Wow. That is bold. I love it.

AG I love it, yes. I am here for it. Jill Castilla. She is Citizens Bank of Edmond, and she's fantastic. And she even acknowledges -- I just want to read -- so there was a negative review, a 1-star review about an interaction that somebody came into one of their locations, wanted to learn some more about the services and the products that are available because they had heard so much information and positive -- they had had a positive experience or a positive referral source -- and their experience within the branch itself was not a positive experience. And so Jill responded with just "I am horrified and embarrassed that you had this experience. I apologize as that is now how we do not expect to interact with our community or our customers. I'm grateful that you took the time to detail your experience and would be honored to discuss this with your further as we want to improve and ensure this never occurs again." And then she gives her cell phone number, explains who she is and says thank you.

MR You know what? That has so many layers.

AG Oh my gosh, yes.

MR First of all, look at the apology. How many banks would say oh, I'm sorry you had a bad experience and they would make excuses or a non-apology or a fake apology or whatever and be very standoffish about it --

AG Or just the standard we're so sorry, we offer sincere apologies. But the fact that she said that she -- and this is her personal --

MR It was blatantly "I'm sorry."

AG -- I am horrified and embarrassed. I am horrified that this happened to you.

MR And we can relate to that. And sometimes people just want to be heard, they want to be validated.

AG Oh my gosh, yes.

MR That's a great response.

AG Oh my gosh. And if you just take a moment to look at her other responses on down the line because I just think that her responses are just on point. And she responds to everyone. Every single review has some sort of response to it from her. And if it's negative, her cell phone number is right there for you to call or text. She gives her email address as well. The fact that it's the president and CEO giving out their information --

MR It's impressive.

AG -- well, it's good customer service. You're the president and CEO. You know that sometimes people just want to talk to the president and CEO.

MR Yeah. That's impressive. I love it.

AG I will say that my father, at one point in time, there was an instance where he was utilizing Chase bank for something, and I can't remember the specifics of what happened, but he had a negative experience. And so this was back in the days when my dad hand-wrote letters -- he wrote a letter to the president and got it in front of the president, and the president called him back and cleared everything up and figured everything out. If you take -- I think if more people from a leadership perspective started to make themselves ingrained at the customer service level, that builds a culture not only with your customers but with your team as well. Because what drew me to them first was hearing another member of their team speak.

MR Hmm. Okay.

AG And the other member of the team spoke at a conference I went at -- went to. Went at, geez. Lord. It's early, guys. That I went to a couple months ago that they feel empowered to acknowledge when people are having a bad experience or that they feel empowered to make it right or that if they want to speak with the president and CEO, they feel comfortable giving out that phone number. There's no question as to whether or not, from a cultural perspective, whether or not should somebody do something. Because a lot of times we see process and red tape get in the way within a financial institution. And when you start to peel back those layers and you make customer service a priority, look at what's happened. They've even said that someone left a review with-- a few people had left negative reviews, she responded, they called her, and they're still a customer today even though they said they were going to leave.

MR That's a lot of money she saved.

AG Bingo. When you're talking about the cost of acquisition increasing as much as it has, which is roughly 50% over the last 5 years, that's a lot of money. [laughs]

MR Nice, well done.

AG So good job, Citizens Bank of Edmond.

MR Right on. All right. Well, on that note, we love feedback as well. Just want to kind of mention that we have gotten some iTunes reviews, but we'd love to hear from you either via iTunes review or direct feedback. If you feel so inclined, we'd love a review on iTunes. It's Capital Point Marketing, obviously. That is our podcast, you can find us there to leave us a rating and a review.

Really more importantly, even, if you want to just talk to us directly, we would love to hear from you at podcast@capitalpointmarkting.com. That email address goes to both me and to Allison, and we're assuming if you're still listening by episode 46 that you don't hate the podcast; you probably like it. Any feedback we would love. Let us know what you like about the show, what you'd like to have us talk about next, or what you'd like to see us improve on. We'd just love your feedback. Let us know. podcast@capitalpointmarketing.com. Thanks, everyone. We appreciate you joining us today. Thanks, Allison --

AG Thank you.

MR -- for your insights as always.

AG Yeah, my pleasure.

MR Again, thanks, everyone. Have a great day. We will see you next time.