How to Establish Trust Between Banks and Their Communities

How to Establish Trust Between Banks and Their Communities

When it comes to the financial services industry, Americans aren’t exactly overflowing with trust. While the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer states that the 57% of the general population that trusts the financial services sector is the highest the figure has been since 2012, it’s also the lowest of all sectors measured by the survey.

From Wells Fargo’s creation of fake customer accounts to the massive bank bailout of 2008, dishonesty and greed tend to rule finance headlines. Rebuilding trust with customers won’t be quick or easy, but it can be accomplished with a focus on community and humanity without sacrificing technical prowess or user experience.

As is the case in most industries, financial services customers look to the opinions of those around them when deciding on a brand or product. According to research from Trustpilot, three-quarters of consumers say they’re more likely to become a bank’s customer if the lender has garnered positive reviews. Just 9% of consumers disagree with the statement. In other words, trust — either its growth or a lack of it — will have an outsize effect on your customer base.

Not sure where to start building customer confidence? These four steps can demonstrate that your brand is worth trusting.

1. Look Beyond the Numbers

It makes sense that financial institutions would focus on numbers above all else, but not all customers are wired that way. Nina Church-Adams, the current VP of marketing at NPS software company AskNicely, says that left-brained banking executives need to appeal more to the feelings and emotions of right-brained consumers: “To bridge this gap, financial marketers should apply left-brain analytics to processes that facilitate right-brain communications.”

That means communicating to potential customers on how a mortgage can help them achieve their dreams of owning a home and starting a family — not just that it offers a decent interest rate. The same goes for a retirement account. Illustrate the lifestyle that the investment will help people afford, not the quantity of money they’ll have sitting in an account.

2. Highlight Your Human Experts

In a survey of 28 markets around the globe, respondents in 18 reported that working with human advisors remained more important than relying on the latest tech. Consumers want advice in areas such as investments (31%), disputing credit card charges (26%), and purchasing investment products (20%), more than anything else.

While emerging tech can accomplish exciting things in financial services, it can’t replace human interactions. Mobile banking is one thing, and customers will always appreciate the convenience of check deposits or account transfers on the go. But the big questions still require advice from experts. Put those experts at the forefront of your messaging, and watch how customers respond.

3. Utilize Direct Messaging

Direct messaging is a powerful way to foster immediate communication between brands and consumers, but banks often don’t take advantage of it. “It’s clear that direct messaging is an important form of communication,” notes Doug Wilber, CEO of Gremlin Social, a social media solution for banks. “If your financial institution isn’t using it, it’s missing a big ‘in’ with customers.” At least part of the hesitation stems from compliance issues, as FINRA is all too happy to mete out major fines for communications violations.

To keep your messaging compliant, train employees to properly use social media and archive all conversations with customers. Take the necessary steps to protect that information to avoid sacrificing the customers’ trust you’ve earned through direct messaging.

4. Contribute to the Bake Sale

Brands in all industries can amplify their impact by supporting the causes that customers care about. An impressive 87% of customers say they would purchase from such companies, which means it’s important to get involved in important issues in your community.

Even among B2B brands, pitching in is important. Among such companies’ customers, 21% are attracted to a brand’s business value, but 42% are attracted to personal value. Donate time and money to worthy causes, from food drives to school fundraisers. Spread the news of your generosity, and encourage additional philanthropy by sharing images and videos of your efforts on social media.

Trust in the financial sector is low, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Connect to your customers by departing from the numbers for a moment and appealing to their emotions. Money is just a tool, after all. What will make a lasting impression is the fact that your products and services help them realize their dreams.

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