RBS vs O2 – Understanding the power and value of trust

We have two recent examples of problems within massive UK businesses, one which appears to understand the power and value of trust and another which does not.

In June the systems problems experienced by RBS Group across both their Nat West and Ulster Bank chains was almost a case study in how to destroy years of investment in building customer trust. Having recognised that the problem meant significant numbers of their customers would be unable to access their current account funds the company exhibited both slow and unclear communications, appeared not to take the problem nearly seriously enough and made the main ten o’clock news in a highly negative way several nights running.

The end result – here is a comment piece from the Guardian on Thursday 26th July

After the latest banking glitches, will you move your money?

Rate-rigging, money laundering and an endless string of IT glitches have hit the banking industry. Now Nationwide has reportedly been doubling up on customers’ debits and NatWest customers haven’t been able to access their account. There’s a palpable sense of frustration with the banking sector – tell us if you’ve had enough

By way of comparison O2 whose network went down on Thursday the 12th July appear to understand customer trust fully. Their communications were fast, accurate and displayed urgency to put things right…here is what their Chief Executive Ronan Dunne said on the day…

“We absolutely want to make it up to our customers for the service they didn’t get, the key for us now is to underpin the reliability of the service and restore our customers’ confidence.”

O2 came out of a major problem which negatively affected 7.6 million of their customers potentially with higher trust levels than they had enjoyed previously. RBS meanwhile operate in the context of a battered banking sector and add to that a massive negative trust index with both current and potential future customers. The value of this negative publicity cannot be accurately quantified but what is clear is that many millions of pounds of advertising money will be required simply to get them back to where they started the month of July in trust terms.

The examples above display the management (and mis-management) of trust in the B2C environment – at Customer Attuned we also recognize the value of trust in B2B relationships. We know of many examples where one loose statement or badly worded letter has destroyed months or even years of investment in the building of relationships. One thing is for sure – it is far easier to lose trust than it is to build it.