Do you have a brand? I don’t mean a name or a logo, but a brand. Your brand is about the customer experience with your business, the way you differentiate your store or chain of stores from other financial service centers, the personality of your business. Everybody has a brand. It’s how they use it that makes it a successful brand or just another also ran.
One way to strategically use your brand is to create trust with your customers with it. Why is this important? Because you perform mission critical transactions with your customers. They trust that you provide them with the cash they need to manage their lives, they entrust you with considerable amounts of personal information and they trust that when they hand over their money to pay a bill or wire funds that they will get where they need to be in a timely fashion.
Also in today’s economy consumers are becoming more and more skeptical with their financial institutions. According to the 2011 Edelman Trust in U.S. Financial Services Survey, of the top factors listed by 75% or more of consumers surveyed, financial institutions came up short of expectations. For example, 91% of those surveyed indicated that Honest Communication was an important factor in the reputation of their FI, but only 67% of those consumers perceived that their bank lived up to that aspect of their relationship. Similarly, 84% said Open and Transparent Practices were important, but nearly 1 in 3 said their bank or credit Union fell short. 75% said fair and competitive prices were important, but only a little over half felt that they were provided. In these areas where financial institutions are suffering from an enormous trust deficit, financial service centers seem to excel. This may provide a rare opportunity for FSCs to not only secure their relationships with existing customers, but to reach up demographically into a whole new pool of dissatisfied bank customers.
So how do you build trust with your brand?
Create a Brand Personality – stand for something.
Whether it’s the best customer service, the cleanest stores, the most product offerings – whatever you do best – be sure to associate it with your business. Having a unique identity helps customers not only find you, but to distinguish you from all of the other FSCs in the market and to associate the things that make you different with your brand.
Use the Voice of the Customer – solicit feedback from your customers. Meet them in the lobbies, train tellers to interact with them and ask questions, address them by name and ask for their suggestions. Incorporate their comments into testimonial statements in your in-store advertising and graphics. Show happy customers in the ethnic varieties that comprise your base. Develop referral programs that reward customers for bringing in friends and family as new customers.
Recognize and Reward Loyalty – All too often consumers’ patronage today is taken for granted.
Acknowledge that you value the business your customers bring to you. Create frequency programs with incentives for cashing checks or paying bills. Offer scratch off tickets, sweepstakes entry or a free gift with purchase. Everybody likes to get something for free, especially when it is in the form of a thank you for your business message.
Show Respect – Focus on good customer services.
After all most banks are not, so this is an easy way to beat them at that game. Address customers by name. It’s right there in front of you, on their check, bill or other paperwork used to process a transaction. Make cross sell suggestions based on past purchases. Again, your POS system likely has their recent transaction history right there on the screen in front of the teller. And be sure to tell them what’s new. Most consumers appreciate that.
It’s really very simple to build trust. Do the things listed here and customers will believe that you really do have their best interest at heart. Trust is the bedrock of every brand. You simply have to mean what you say, say what you mean, do what you say you will do and live up to your promises. After all, wouldn’t you trust someone who did those things for you?