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How to identify an online troll and help your bank deal with it

12 October, 2020Juno Baker

Online trolling can quickly damage a bank’s reputation. But how do you know if you’re dealing with a legitimate complaint or a cyberbully? And what should you do if you suspect your financial services firm is being targeted by trolls?

Road sign warning of trollTrolling is a cybercrime. It can damage a bank’s brand, which in turn can impact the running of the business and ultimately its success.

According to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), trolling is “a form of baiting online which involves sending abusive and hurtful comments across…social media platforms”.

The difference between trolling and complaints

Of course, customers have a right to complain – and in public if they wish, including online. Just because a customer is letting off steam on Twitter, that doesn’t make them a troll.

As a retail banker, you’ll be used to dealing with complaints. It’s an important skill in any customer services role. You need to be a good communicator, diplomatic and patient. And your bank will have guidelines and policies on how you should proceed.

But when is a complaint not a complaint?

You need to be able to distinguish between trolling and legitimate complaints from customers that appear online.

On social media, you may find it difficult to tell the difference – especially if you’re faced with a slew of posts from a persistent, and particularly disgruntled, customer.

Human beings are hard-wired to react more emotionally to negative information – such as scandals and perceived injustices. That’s why, on social media, negative posts tend to be shared and liked more than positive ones.

To make matters worse, social media companies use algorithms to highlight content that causes a stir. So negative posts about your bank can become a big problem in a very short space of time.

But that still doesn’t mean those posts are trolling.

The difference is that unhappy customers want you to resolve an issue, trolls just want to cause trouble.

So, if you’ve resolved a complaint and the damaging posts continue, you may be dealing with an online troll.

What to do if you suspect trolling

It’s likely your bank has a sophisticated IT system to identify and report trolling attacks.

However, in the grey area between legitimate complaints and trolling, those systems may not catch everything. So, if you do suspect your bank is being trolled, it’s important to act.

  1. Check your organisation’s policy and guidelines on how to deal with inappropriate content. This should help you identify what you’re dealing with and guide you on what steps to take.
  2. Social media companies have policies for addressing inappropriate content and will respond quickly by taking it down. So make sure that you ask the relevant platform to remove the offensive posts.
  3. Report trolling to the appropriate manager or department in-house, so that your firm can track the abuse. Tracking and analysis can help you identify patterns.
  4. In any event – whether you believe you’re dealing with an online troll or a frustrated customer – stay calm, remain professional and always be polite.

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