When will brands start putting ‘trust’ over ‘short-term profit’?

CC image courtesy of purplejavatroll on Flickr
Money may – as Liza Minnelli once sang – make the world go round, but for many of us moral issues are more important – like trust, for instance.

It may be unfashionable to praise a bank in 2014, but it appears that Natwest deserves a round of applause.

Its latest campaign promises a fairer deal for existing customers, rather than always offering the best rates to new ones.

This sort of policy is music to my ears, but really it should be standard for all brands, rather than a unique selling point.

The fact that it isn’t standard speaks volumes. In Natwest’s case, it’s possibly a result of losing customers to other banks, lured by an eye-catching cashback offer if they switch (known as ‘churn’ in the trade).

However, at least they’re trying to do right by current customers and inspire loyalty, rather than always going after the bright shiny new customer across the street.

The insurance quote

I spotted the Natwest campaign in the same week that I experienced typically poor service from two other large brands – neither of which inspired the trust and loyalty they’re getting.

Firstly, the age-old scenario of renewing home insurance (in our case from More Than). This story is so common and one that frustrates the hell out of me.

  1. You get a renewal quote in the post
  2. You do an online comparison search
  3. You discover a better offer elsewhere, so you ring up your original insurer
  4. “Oh, sorry,” they exclaim. “Please don’t go. We can match that quote.”
  5. You stay with original insurer

The insurer is now probably congratulating itself on keeping a customer for another year, but at what cost? Has it really inspired any loyalty? Does the customer (me in this case) really trust the company?

The mobile phone problem

Second example is, however, far, far worse.

For a week or two, I’d had no service on my mobile when in my own home, so I finally decided to call up T-Mobile and see what the deal was.

After a bit of tapping on her computer, the customer services rep told me that my nearest cell tower was down and that this was a known, ongoing issue. Unfortunately, they didn’t know when it would be fixed, but the inference was not soon.

And then – and for me this is the jawdropping part – she unquestioningly credited my month’s standard rental charge to my account.

I know I should be happy that I’d got what was effectively a refund, but the only reason I got it was because I rang them up. Why did ‘I’ have to do the work to get the money back?

Surely it’s not beyond their ability to look up all the customers in the affected area and let them know – and automatically credit their accounts, is it?

You see, the clever thing to do would be to pre-empt the annoyance and irritation and do the right thing. That would make the customer not only very happy, but also feel cherished and wanted. And they’re more than likely to stay!

Sadly – as the title of this post infers – short-term profit trumps trust and loyalty.

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