If I had to pick a single institution that has garnered one of the worst online reputations, it has to be the Bank of America. Financial institutions and banks need a reputation bailout right now to try and help them recover their losses in the eyes of the consumer. Since 2009, the Bank of America has been hit by one scandal and revelation after another. Foreclosure foes? Machiavellian mortgage holders? Or just simply a convenient scapegoat for a troubled economy? Trashed in films, in the media and online, banks have become the hardest hit in terms of having their reputations shredded.
Online Opinions and Loose Lips That Sink Ships
Everyone has an opinion, and everyone is entitled to express that opinion in any way they choose. The freedom to speak your mind is entrenched in the very structure of the world wide web and is for the most part, a stunning example of democracy and freedom at work. Many people say that banks deserve to get trashed in the media, and that an informed electorate is the best part of a true democracy. How much though, of a bad reputation is deserved? How much is hearsay? How much is just the opinion of laypeople? Drawing that line is extremely difficult.
Banks and bankers are starting to see the value and understand just how important it is to maintain a good reputation. Barclays Bank, now under the leadership of Anthony Salz, after the Libor debacle, admits, "banks need to revisit fundamentally the basis on which they operate, and how they add value to society". In the UK, banks are being probed, investigated and legislated more than ever before. This is a positive result of the economic crisis and it shows that government is looking after our interests. It also shows that banks are ready to clean up and demonstrate their willingness to change and to make every effort to restore public trust. Restoring public trust is all about managing and repairing their reputation. We work closely with a few financial institutions in the UK and every effort is being made to repair and protect their reputation online.
You Can't Stash Your Cash Under A Mattress
How much of the current economic crisis has been caused by wildfire rumours and online speculation in blogs, on social media, and in the mainstream media? One needs only to look to opinion pieces as far back as 2010, such as the one in Rolling Stone Magazine about Goldman Sachs to understand just how powerful the internet really is when it comes to influencing the opinions of the public. Big businesses are only now waking up to the fact that the internet is one of the most powerful and certainly the largest media channel in the world. It is immediate, real time and has the power to bring about change.
We need banks, and even more than that, we need to be able to rely on banking institutions to act in our best interests. Not only are they the guardians of our cash, but the guardians and leaders of the global economy. There is simply no way that we can exist without a steadfast and transparent banking system. Credit drives a robust economy and we need to feel assured that our savings are safe.
Due to the very nature of the internet, we will choose our banks and bankers by what we read and see online. Financial services providers like Paypal and Payoneer have changed the world with online cashless banking systems as well as the public perception of banking without borders.
We can all take a lesson in damage limitation from the banks and financial institutions of the world who are only now engaged in repairing and protecting their reputation online. A fast response to all comments whether they are positive or negative can do so much towards repairing a damaged reputation. My message to the banks is to make use of the same channels that your public is using; if you're not listening to your clients, how on earth do you expect them to listen to you?
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