Would consumers buy into “Bank Advisor”?

Financial services marketers should take note of a survey that says consumers want easy to use websites and personal recommendations.

I had a brainwave after reading my colleague Michael Barnett’s feature this week on what communications channels influence consumers most when it comes to choosing between financial services brands.

There were two statistics quoted in the feature’s research that struck me as a lot of things for marketers – compelling, revelatory and valuable. 75% of the survey’s respondents stated that a “clear, easy to use website is important” when considering a financial brand; and 60% said they “like to know of other people who have used a brand and get their views”.

Combine the two and what do you get? A “Trip Advisor”-esque website for banks, is what. A Google search shows that while the likes of Money Supermarket and Money Saving Expert exist to help consumers save money on anything from travel insurance to grocery shopping – but in the midst of all the fragmented forum posts, there isn’t anything (as far as I am aware) dedicated exclusively to banks in the way that Trip Advisor looks solely at hotels.

A simple catalogue style site, listing each bank and inviting user comments and ratings beneath each brand portfolio, would be a straightforward port of call for consumers to sift through the results and make an informed choice based on user feedback.

Such a mechanism would encourage banks to do the things they say they want to be better at – be more transparent and more effective at inspiring consumer trust. And the word of mouth recommendation element becomes an easy resource to tap into, as banks could then direct long standing customers to leave their (hopefully positive) feedback on the “Bank Advisor” website.

Online retailer Amazon is a brand that is adept at showcasing customer feedback, and it does influence peoples’ choices. I distinctly remember Unilever CMO Keith Weed telling the audience in Cannes that while browsing on Amazon for a hedge trimmer, he skipped over the one that had three comments from users all saying that the strap had broken.

And I know I have based many an accommodation choice on what Joe from California had to say about that cute looking hostel in Barcelona – the minute I see the words “dirty” or “rude staff” I will click onto the next option.

So who will be the first to set up Bank Advisor? Don’t forget to mention my name when you do!

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