In times of crisis, reputation is everything

In 2018, the Reputation Institute estimated 63% of the general public will give companies with excellent reputations the benefit of doubt when a crisis hits. In the age of COVID, protests, upcoming elections, and near-hourly economic shifts, a crisis that touches your credit union isn’t just possible, it’s almost inevitable. 

The other inevitability is that if someone’s hearing about your credit union for the first time, or you have a member wanting to know what the story is, they’re likely to look online before talking to your team in person.

What that means for you is if your team isn’t actively monitoring online reputation, it’s time to start. 

Online reputation management opportunities are abundant, and the earlier you jump in to monitor and manage your reputation, the less of an uphill climb you’ll have if and when something goes wrong. 

Why? A good reputation is more than just being listed somewhere. It’s showing that you listen and respond. That includes replying to both the negative and the positive. Research backs it up, too; when you respond, people are willing to change what may have otherwise been a negative view of your credit union. The question isn’t if you have an online reputation, it’s a question of if you want to participate in the conversations already happening about you, or not. 

Luckily, most credit unions have some kind of online reputation or digital reputation management program in place, even if it’s informal. It could be that your Marketing or Communications team is keeping an eye on social media for you. Perhaps your PR or advertising agency forwards news reports that impact you. Or perhaps you have a robust formal digital reputation solution that seems to capture a wide range of online mentions. 

No matter how formal or informal your program, however, the internet is a vast landscape. There are a few categories of services and websites that are often missed when it comes to digital reputation management, all of which may be worth consideration in your processes. 

Employment websites

As Jill Nowacki pointed out on CUInsight a few weeks ago, now is the time to find great hires for your credit union. When those great employees start looking at your CU online, what are they likely to find? During the last economic downturn, a full 69% of people said that they would turn down a job from a company with a bad reputation, even if they were unemployed. And if you have an excellent reputation, you could save up to 10% per hire. 

If you or your HR Team haven’t perused Glassdoor, Indeed,  Kununu, or FairyGodBoss, it may be time to take a look. Some of these sites, such as Glassdoor and Indeed, offer free profiles where you can claim and edit your information, as well as reply to reviews. 

Other sites, such as FairyGodBoss, require a paid subscription. A good rule of thumb is that if you have more than 5 reviews, or 1 review for every 100 employees, a subscription may be worth considering. 

Location Listings

While the unwanted phone calls telling you that you need to claim your Google listing right away are spam, there is a nugget of truth in them: you actually can and should claim those listings.

However, you don’t need to pay anyone to do it for you. Google My Business is a free service that allows you to manage the hours, names, and reviews Google displays for your business in search results. Bing, Apple Maps, and Facebook have similar options. Yelp does have some limited free capability as well. 

Wherever it is, the location listing can often be one of the first impressions someone gets of your credit union online, so they’re worth taking the time to make sure they put your best foot forward – and continue to do so. 

App Reviews

When a member decides to (finally!) download that app you’ve been asking them to use for years, what kind of an impression are they getting? Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store both display app reviews right next to your credit union’s carefully branded app name. 

Sometimes these reviews are legitimately about your app experience — and sometimes members take the opportunity to leave feedback as a chance to share just about any experience they’ve had with your credit union. 

Both Apple and Google allow the registered developers for your app to reply to reviews, and if that’s not something your team is at least monitoring and handling, it could well be worth considering. In my experience, members don’t differentiate between calling your contact center and leaving an app review asking for help. Either way, they think they’re contacting their credit union. Are you leaving them hanging?

Financial Niche Sites

For beer lovers, Untappd is the go-to review site. Bookworms love Goodreads. So how about those who love nothing more than a well-constructed budget, or are comparing where they should put their savings? NerdWallet, CreditKarma, and WalletHub are all popular sites that offer members the chance to leave reviews of your credit union or its products. 

As with all other review sites, it’s important to use the opportunity to respond not only to positive reviews, but to show that you listen to feedback, have made changes when appropriate, and do your best to solve the issue(s) if they can be solved. 

BBB Website


If your CU is a member of the Better Business Bureau or not, you likely already have a profile on their website. There’s a unique two-layer review system with the BBB site. There are the official complaints and reviews that anyone can submit to the BBB through their system. And then there’s the “Customer Reviews and Complaints” section of their business profile. The BBB doesn’t manage or handle these reviews the same way they do official complaints, so they can be easily missed – and just as easily picked up and shown to someone who is researching your organization. 


It’s an oldie but goodie — and often the first place search engines will look for information on your organization. If you haven’t taken a look at your Wikipedia page lately, head on over. It’s possible you have an enthusiastic fan or employee who has been keeping the page fastidiously updated. It’s just as likely that nobody has even looked at the page since 2004. A word of warning when you go to update things, however — you need to cite your sources, and “because I work there and I know this” doesn’t count as a source. Work with your PR team or Marketing department to refer back to webpages, news articles, or other published information that support the edits you’re making. 

In the end, you don’t have to do it alone. 

Online reputation management can feel overwhelming. There’s always somewhere else that seems to be listing your hours all wrong, an angry member finds somewhere new to complain (Ripoff Report, seriously?), and another prospecting email in your inbox from one more service that wants you to pay to play on their platform. 

The thing that’s important to keep in mind is that nobody has to do it all. HR may be able to help with employment sites, your IT team with app reviews, branch managers may be able to help with location listings, and a particularly enthusiastic intern or frontline employee may love editing Wikipedia anyway. There are plenty of people already in your organization ready, willing, and able to help — it’s just a matter of pointing them in the right direction and giving them some guidance on how and what to say on your behalf. 

There are also plenty of tools, both free and paid, that can help monitor, assign out, and categorize conversations. 

In both the short and long run, managing your online reputation will pay off. It helps attract new members, keeps the members you have happy, and improves your reputation in the community. It’s a win-win-win for everyone involved.

Andrea Parrish

Andrea Parrish

With over 20 years of communications and digital media experience, Andrea Parrish has lived in many worlds. She's been a successful Kickstarter-funded small business owner, speaker on hundreds of conference ... Web: Details