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Do bank branded feedback forums work?

Marc O comments on the blog about social networking that James Gardner posted, which inspired my posts for this week:

“I think it is interesting that some banks are including content like ratings and reviews and user submitted testimonials on their sites with content specifically submitted by users – for other users.


Has anyone else looked at having user-generated content directly within the bank brand?”


I went and looked at the reviews on the BoA’s website, and they’re all gushing and complementary, giving the bank 5-star ratings and saying how wonderful their online banking services are.

Most comments are like LazyJack’s from Arizona:

"I think your on-line banking system is excellent. I can check my balances any time I wish, pay bills on-line, view checks I’ve written if questions arise, and do all of this with a security system that I think is tops."

This is why I don’t believe these forums work, as they’re just gathering people who are ‘yes folks’. 

It reminds me of boardrooms, where people won’t tell the CEO that they’re a jerk because the CEO would fire them.  This is why bank operated feedback forums are very difficult to use as a true input and review mechanism.

Equally, even if the posts are honest and true, readers will believe the bank deletes all the negative ones or edits them. 

The best feedback forum is therefore on that encourages honest to goodness feedback either independently externally or anonymously internally.  The latter point is important in that it encourages straight-talk to the bank with no comeback.

However, I did have a look over BoA’s feedback to see if there was any negative feedback out of the 7,000 or so reviews there.

Most are similar to Lazyjack’s, but there are a few that are less positive.  The less positives are about 1 in 30, and here’s an example from Samantha:

"My only complaint is that using the bill pay and transfer features is often more complicated than it should be.  For example, I wanted to send another person with a B of A account a monthly payment because we share a phone bill. So I went into bill pay and added their name, address, and account info. Then they got mailed a check … I’ve probably spent 2hrs+ trying to troubleshoot this problem and still no solution, hence my complaint about the interface."

But then she finishes with: "Still, I’m relatively satisfied. Just hope it gets better."

Yep, she’s a fan.

Then there’s 12345678 from New York who is really mad:

"I find that whenever I want to access your site, I have a hard time and always have to reset my passcode. It is so frustrating to get online with you.  I have never had this trouble with any other bank."

But then he finishes with: "Once you get in, it is an ok site."

And that’s about it.

Hardly any bad reviews and, the few there are end up with a positive.

But then there were a few that made me laugh. 

They gave the bank only 1-star out of 5 as a rating. 

That’s pretty poor.   

One was from me23, who says:  "The website is very convenient. Instead of using the phone service and going through all the usual menus, when I go online I can reach the banking information I need quickly and easily."

Then there’s pju9960 who says: "I got used to my husband paying all the bills thru mails then suddenly he left and I do not know how to drive plus I do not have a car. My first problem,how to pay my bills! My sister said no problem,go online,you have Bank of America. She was absolutely right, anybody can do it."

And also gave the bank 1 star.

I think they meant to give the bank 5 star ratings somehow and maybe that’s the real lesson here: customers need to be educated in how to use review forums!

Or maybe it just corroborates my contention that banks should not mess with social networks or necessarily run them, but should focus upon how to support and advise through social media and other folks networks.


By the way, BoA is one of the best online banks in the world … but the numbers are borne out through their success in getting 25 million Americans to bank with them online and over a million mobile banking users, rather than any hosted review platform.

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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