Studies: Banks should focus on trust post-financial crisis

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The world's ongoing economic issues have taken their toll on consumers' view of banks, and new reports from Forrester Research, S1 and other firms are now backing up the anecdotal evidence that banks are suffering from a CRM crisis.

S1 Enterprise reports that strained relationships between banks and their customers are leading consumers to choose banks based on perceptions of financial stability and trustworthiness, rather than the traditional No. 1 driver, convenience.

“The degree of erosion in confidence and trust was striking to say the least,” said Read Ziegler, president and CEO of Vantedge Group, a research group that helped S1 conduct its survey. “That emotional decision-driver is coming front and center, and another piece that goes part and parcel with that is this desire for more personal interaction with banks. People need trust, reassurance and confidence, and it is really materializing in physical relationships.”

Another recent study, from Forrester Research, aligns with S1's findings that consumers have lost trust in their banks. Forrester's research showed that US financial services firms have fallen to their lowest-ever Customer Advocacy ranking — a ratings system based on consumers' perceptions that a company is doing what's best for its clients, and not its bottom line. A company's Customer Advocacy ranking is a good indicator of customer retention and strong customer relationships.

“Customer advocacy is really critical,” agreed Mark Moore, VP of Marketing for S1 Enterprise. “Banks should be going out and proactively looking at accounts, making recommendations to consumers and facilitating the ease of doing business with them and providing assurances to consumers.”

One company taking these lessons to heart is Ally Bank — the recently rebranded online arm of GMAC Financial Services. The bank was formed in response to customer surveys that pointed to trust as a deciding factor in choosing a bank, and its launch campaign, created with BBH New York, is trying to establish Ally as a trustworthy institution. From its new name to the “straight talk” approach it's touting with customers, Ally is trying to create an environment of trust and transparency.

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