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The importance of trust for financial services brands
Whatever industry you’re in, Trust is one of the most commonly stated drivers of brand choice. We know this because we come up against this challenge day after day working with brands across a variety of sectors. But financial services has a much tougher job than most. A recent Edelman survey showed that in the UK, only 48% of people trusted financial services organisations. This is a staggering problem for an industry which accounts for 10% of the UK’s GDP and employs over 1 million people* in the UK. And the UK is not the only country to fall victim a loss of faith and confidence in the financial services sector.
In light of global change and uncertainty, it seems that consumer trust in the banking sector - across the globe - is leaving its mark on associated entities meaning that their trust in banking brands has also subsequently taken a hit. So what can bank brands do to rebuild trust?
1. TRUST IS A BALANCED OUTCOME OF GOOD AND BAD THINGS HAPPENING
To get people to trust you, you need to understand the interesting dynamic between the things that create and the things that damage trust. In the superhero battle for trust supremacy, the baddies have more power. Research has consistently shown that contributors to trust are professionalism, governance, integrity and engagement. Any evidence of a lack of these factors damages credibility to a far greater degree than positive examples enhance it.
Understanding the trade-off for customers in specific sectors of FS is massively important for customer strategies, how they’re delivered and what is communicated.
2. COMMUNICATION IS SO YESTERDAY. IT’S ALL ABOUT ENGAGEMENT
In the past, communications was all about pushing your message at a particular target audience and in FS in particular, the company always knew best. Not so any more. In a connected world, all communications must be genuinely two-way and encourage open dialogue. The paternalistic society is well and truly dead which means organisations have to be prepared to have two-way conversations that involve active listening and participation.
Today’s winners are those that organisations that really do want ongoing conversations with their customers (not those who just say they do). If you’re exploiting new direct customer channels, then embrace the opportunity to create truly engaged customers through building mutually valuable relationships.
3. INTEGRITY AND ETHICS ARE IMPORTANT – BUT IT’S ABOUT DEMONSTRATION
The key to this is doing the right thing, but actually there’s a hierarchy of doing the right thing. Whilst consumers talk about wanting an organisation to act in the best interests of its customers. In probing further, what they mean is:
“act in the best interests of me, and then if it doesn’t harm my interests, act in the best interests of the rest of your customers and then, if it still doesn’t harm my interests, act in the best interests of the broader society”
Start with understanding what your customers expect, not just what the regulator expects and if you can’t get integrity and ethics right, close the door and turn off the lights.
4. DON'T SAY IT YOURSELF, GET SOMEONE ELSE TO SAY IT FOR YOU
Online search has become the most used channel for finding information amongst the general public, but search in itself is not the answer. It’s the source of the information that’s important, with expert and peer recommendation holding the trump card. So how do you get people to say good things about you? Consumers can see right through cynical attempts to buy social endorsements so it simply comes down to understanding what customers want and making sure they get it.
You can’t simply claim or buy trust, it has to be earned by doing what customers want and doing it consistently. Only then will people say good things about you.
5. PURPLE COWS WIN!
If you saw a purple cow in a field, you’d stop and take a picture and talk about it right?
6. BE AUTHENTIC AND CREATE CONNECTIONS AND ENGAGEMENT
If we need to forget b2b and b2c and b2b2c and concentrate on P2P, then we need to actually be a P. Don’t talk or act like a computer
7. A PICTURE IS WORTH…
Well you know the rest
8. SOCIAL SHOULD NOT BE A FUNCTION, IT’S A WAY OF LIFE
If you make social simply a department and don’t integrate throughout an organisation, social will always be an adjunct. It needs to be just a way of doing things
9. YOU’RE ATTENDING THE PARTY – YOU’RE NOT THE HOST
Be part of a relevant conversation but don’t try to own it (no-one can)
10. ACCEPT YOU’LL MAKE MISTAKES, BUT LEARN AND TRY AGAIN
In today’s dynamic consumer landscape “social strategy” is a crucial part of all brand strategy. We can work with you to devise strategies to acquire and activate customers through social.
If you’d like to know about how we can help your business, please get in touch with BRAVE Director and co-founder Sara Marshall.
Director and co-founder
Written by Sara Marshall