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by Jon Buss, MD UK & Northern Europe, Yext

No industry appreciates the heavy hand of the regulator and the Financial Services industry has certainly seen its fair share of it.  Even though the regulator is sometimes seen as the unwelcome guest at a VIP party, regulatory changes often push an industry to think differently, behave differently and make positive change.

Jon Buss

Jon Buss

This is evident from the latest investigative work by the Competition and Markets Authority into the retail banking sector which has led to numerous recommendations and initiatives that the financial services industry will have to embrace by 2018.  The CMA’s new retail banking regulations are designed to change the status quo and there’s no doubt that when it comes into effect, we’re going to see a hive of online activity as well as a bigger fight for customers on the high street.  To win, online banks will need to have a sophisticated and ‘active’ digital knowledge management strategy and here’s why.

Financial services providers will immediately face increased competition which will lead to more online comparing of products and services and switching, resulting in customers searching online for more information about banks than ever before.  Digital knowledge is at the centre of this search ecosystem, powering results that provide searchers with useful information about people, products, and places: What time does my nearest bank open?  Where is it?  Are there any promotions running for the services I’m looking for?   Ensuring the search ecosystem presents the searcher with all the correct information they require can result in increased traffic and revenue, more in-bound phone calls, e-commerce transactions and your getting the business over your competitors.

Alongside this, so far 2017 has been the year for digital assistants, with an expected 33 million voice-first devices in circulation by end of year.  The voice landscape is a fascinating environment with huge possibilities and challenges for marketers.  The biggest challenge being that when a person performs a voice search, they often only receive one answer in response, which means it’s no longer good enough for a business to rank second. If you’re not number one, you won’t be discovered.  Ask Alexa ‘where is my my local bank’ and see what she says.

So, there’s several questions marketers need to ask themselves: are the deep facts and attributes about my business discoverable online? Is the information that’s discoverable correct?  If the answer is no, what’s the impact on the business and customer experience, especially in a world where people want accurate and complete information in the moment?  Who wants an irate customer that looks online for a local branch and turns up to find it has closed down.

Marketers need to be in control of the digital knowledge presented to the public about their business. The choice is whether to leave control of your brand image and reputation to search crawlers and crowd-sourced content, or to have a strategy to present the best version of your brand everywhere your customer is.

The regulations will also propel the importance of customer advocacy, recommendations will become a core influencer of customer choice.  So, for the first time, banks will need a comprehensive and active review strategy across the whole digital ecosystem.

 Here are four key things banks can do to create and implement an effective digital knowledge management strategy:

1)     Think about the whole digital ecosystem and take control – Banks need a vibrant and active presence across the whole digital ecosystem.  This isn’t just Google and Facebook, you need to include Snapchat, Instagram, Uber, Bing, Apple, Yelp, car GPS systems, maps, apps, etc.
2)     Maintain and manage accurate business data – A bank must be able to manage and maintain accurate facts and attributes including locations, opening hours, products and services down to a location level and have a robust internal system to centralise this data or find partners to automate this.  Managing this data manually is extremely labour and time intensive especially if you have hundreds of locations.
3)     Deploy rich, relevant localised content –  Create an agile strategy that enables the business to continuously deliver fresh content in real time, as fresh content drives prominence.  For example, real-time updating of holiday shopping hours. The richer the information about your business, the better.  Include photos and videos, business descriptions, products, service offerings, local promotions and events, Snapchat Geofilters etc.
4)     Implement a consumer review strategy – Consumer reviews, not just opinion, now impact and affect organic search results.  Make sure your business has a robust consumer reviews strategy in place which includes brand, product and location reviews right down to an individual location level.  This includes actively responding to negative reviews and firing up your fans.  Make it easy for your customers to give you feedback in the right places and ask regularly.  7 out of 10 people will leave a review for a business when they’re asked.  Doing so will protect your position and reputation in Google search results, and build good will with your customers.

This is a perfect opportunity for banks to build and enhance their reputation, drive customer engagement, and demonstrate customer centricity.

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