Trust Is A Two-Way Street

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If he wasn’t the first to coin the term trust-based marketing, then Glen Urban of MIT was certainly one of the first to write about it and help marketers understand the importance of trust in a customer relationship.

Today, financial firms are embracing this concept — it seems like just about every FI exhorts consumers to “trust us.” Unfortunately, their actions don’t always live up to their words.

And unfortunately, many firms fail to recognize that trust is a two-way street.

The following is a recent post from a fellow WordPress blogger:

Earlier this month, I spoke with a bank rep about a $592 fraudulent charge that had been posted to my checking acct. I filed a dispute against the merchant and was told it would take approx. 5 business days for the matter to be resolved. In the meantime, I was concerned I would incur insufficient fund fees.

The rep informed me I would be able to file a “separate” dispute once this dispute cleared. Essentially, rack up fees, then we’ll credit your acct? Pretty wacked.

Two days later, there was a credit to my acct. for $592. Yeah – problem resolved – or so I thought. I incurred over $300 in insufficient funds fees – Yikes!

As instructed by the rep, I called to file an additional dispute to recover the insufficient funds fees.The rep I filed the original claim with failed to record it on my acct. So they claimed to have no record of a dispute. On top of that, I was informed the (evil) merchant “credited” my acct. for the unauthorized charge.

Since the merchant “credited” my acct, it was no longer considered a fraudulent charge & there was no need for a dispute. What the @%&$?

I got passed off to a manager who informed me the bank wasn’t responsible for the insufficient funds fees because there wasn’t a record of a dispute. So now you’re telling me it’s my fault that your people are incompetent?!


My take: Clearly, a number of things went wrong here. But what strikes me as the most egregious sin, however, is the lack of trust — of the bank in its customer.

Granted, there’s a lot of fraudulent activity going on out there. But this bank basically didn’t believe its customer when she said she had called to file the claim. In effect, it called her liar.

So here we have a bank, who, if it’s like many of the others out there, is telling customers and prospects in its ads and marketing messages to “trust us.” And what does it do? Turns around and mistrusts its own customers.

A simple review of this woman’s account would likely have provided clues as to whether or not she was trying to commit some fraud. But it should never have even come to that.

The bank — without batting an eyelash — should have apologized and told her it was sorry and that it would credit her account for the fees. And then look into the legitimacy of the situation. We’re talking $300 here.

What’s sad about this situation is that if this customer is a professional or small business owner, she’ll be likely to get cross-sell offers from the bank to open investment accounts or a small business account. And what do you think are the chances that she’ll respond to these offers? I wouldn’t bet on it.

There are two things about this story that make me shake my head. Apparently, there are still a lot of banks that just don’t get that:

  1. They have to identify and act on the moments of truth that occur, and
  2. To get trust, you have to give trust.

This was a moment of truth. The bank didn’t identify it, and (in this case) couldn’t rectify it. The result: Maybe not a lost customer, but probably a customer who’s unlikely to grow her relationship. And definitely a loss of trust.

Technorati Tags: Marketing, Banking, Trust-Based Marketing, Glen Urban

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