Sometimes we forget how much our industry trades in trust.
According to the ‘World Values Survey’, Australians are the most trusting people in the world when it comes to each other. We are more likely than any other country surveyed to say that ‘most people can be trusted’ but when it comes to financial services and those of us in it, trust is at an all time low. And it’s declining.
So, what do we do about it?
There is certainly a role for regulators to help shape the landscape whether through looking at the sustainability of products or increasing professional development requirements for Advisers, but this is a major transformation that requires effort at all levels. We’ve looked at some of the most trusted companies in the world and what got them there, for some potential clues into our own way forward.
In human relationships, trust is comprised of a number of factors like open communication and transparency, authenticity and accessibility – and we expect the same things from the companies we work with. These ideas work to create trust whether you’re talking about a brand, a company, or an individual.
Listen, learn, and act.
Nike is one of the worlds most trusted brands, which could be seen as a bit surprising for a company that’s had its fair share of controversies…and that may be a big part if it’s success. When in 2019 they released a shoe featuring the original American flag featuring the 13 colonies, they faced significant consumer backlash. The brand could have continued with the well-selling shoe but based on consumer feedback pulled-it from sale and promptly apologised. In doing so they demonstrated that they not only listen to customer feedback, they act on it. It’s a fact that unites many of the most trusted brands – they listen, learn and act on customer feedback in an open and public way.
What do you stand for?
According to AdAge, 53% of consumers expect brands to get involved in at least one social issue that is not directly related to their business. Consumers want to know that you (and your company) care about more than just making money. It demonstrates ethics and values and existing for more than just the bottom line. They want to know you care so that your motivations and decisions can be trusted. In doing so, you’re more likely to generate positive conversations around your company. Virgin is one of the most trusted (and profitable) businesses of our time. Richard Branson often talks about the importance of purpose to his success.
“Never has there been a more exciting time for all of us to explore this next great frontier where the boundaries between work and higher purpose are merging into one, where doing good really is good for business”.
Your call is important to us.
We have all experienced being on-hold to a company and hearing them repeat how important our call is. But you can’t help thinking that if the call was truly important to them, they would have more people answering phones. Shortening the distance between companies and customers is the last major factor we will explore which can help create trust.
Accessible companies are ones where you can speak to decision makers, when you can tell they’re not avoiding you, where no one hides behind a desk, and where you can ask the questions you want – not just hear what they want to tell you.
Starbucks is another of the world’s most trusted brands and they have achieved this in-part through their accessibility on social media. In 2018 they had more than 23,600 conversations initiated on their Facebook wall and they replied to more than 95% of them. Their CEO and most executives are on social media and all engage and reply to customers’ questions – big and small. In doing this they demonstrate that serving customers is the most important activity anyone at their organisation can do. It’s proof that customer service is in their DNA and critical to their business.
We have a way to go in restoring trust, but the good new is, there is a way forward. By looking at the leading brands, the ones who inspire trust, we can take advantage of their experience and apply it to our own organisations…and ourselves.
General Manager Distribution