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Which Brands Are the Most (and Least) Trusted?

If customers don’t trust you, it’s hard to convince them how great your products and services are. Mistrust leads customers to look for ulterior motives in anything that you do­—even if you’re trying to treat them well.                   

Think about it: How do you treat people who you don’t trust? You assume that everything that they do is to satisfy their own needs without any consideration for yours. You probably don’t get swayed by their stories because you assume that they’re not telling you the whole truth. As a matter of fact, you likely try and stay away from them as much as possible.  

That’s why we created the Temkin Trust Ratings. It allows us to identify which brands consumers trust and which ones they don’t want to associate with. We just released the 2014 Temkin Trust Ratings, the fourth year of these ratings. It shows the level of trust that 10,000 consumers have with 268 brands across 19 industries.

The results show one thing loud and clear: Consumers trust USAA. The financial services company that serves the military and their families grabbed the top three spots in the ratings, for its banking, insurance, and credit card business. That’s impressive! The next 10 companies on the top of the 2014 ratings are Lexus dealers, credit unions, H.E.B., Trader Joe’s, Chick-fil-A, Publix, Costco, Amazon.com, BMW dealers, and PetSmart.

Of course, when there are winners there also must be losers. At the bottom of the 2014 Temkin Trust Ratings are three TV service providers: Charter Communications, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable. Those three companies also showed up in the bottom 10 for their Internet services businesses, along with HSBC (for both credit cards and banking), Qwest, and US Airways.

Here are some other interesting factoids from the Temkin Trust Ratings:

  • Led by credit cards and banking, 17 of the 19 industries improved their Temkin Trust Ratings between 2013 and 2014. Hotel chains were the only industry to experience a decline.
  • The five highest-rated industries are grocery chains, investment firms, insurance carriers, retailers, and auto dealers.
  • The five lowest-rated industries are TV service providers, Internet service providers, wireless carriers, health plans, and airlines.
  • The five companies with the largest improvement in Temkin Trust Ratings between 2013 and 2014 are CareFirst, T.J. Maxx, Best Buy, Cox Communications, and Apple Store.
  • The six companies with the largest decline in Temkin Trust Ratings between 2013 and 2014 are Holiday Inn Express, Hyatt, Coventry Health Care, Blackboard, Travelers, and Marriott.

What can USAA and other highly trusted companies do that Charter Communications and other distrusted companies can’t? A lot. Here are just a few things that come to mind:

  • Introduce new products quicker (customers want to do more with them)
  • Adjust customer behaviors, such as using self-service channels (customers will listen and try things if they’re asked)
  • Cut down on marketing costs (spread lots of positive word of mouth)

The bottom line: Without trust, marketers are destined to waste a lot of money.

  Bruce Temkin, managing partner and customer experience transformist at Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting company. He is widely viewed as a leading expert in customer experience.
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