During a regular workday, thousands of complaints are sent to financial ombudsmen across Europe. Consumers are frustrated, employees distressed, and resources are spent unnecessarily on obtaining a good relationship between provider and consumer. But maybe we can bring down the number of complaints by communicating differently.
So, how can the successful relationship between the financial service provider and the consumer be established? By finding the core using a single tool – TRUST. Actually, TRUST is an acronym containing five guidelines, but overall trust is far from unimportant when communicating in the financial sector. This may sound superficial or shallow to well-educated and experienced service providers in the business. However, much can be gained by keeping these five guidelines in mind.
Timeliness is constant care for stakeholders. Constant. When they call, we help immediately. If for some reason our assistance may take some time, we tell them. Timeliness is of great importance to consumers in general – and to complaining consumers in particular.
Responsibility is about taking the consumers by the hand. None of them – or us – thinks that it is heaven on earth having to go through the 46 pages of legal sections and paragraphs that should somewhere withhold some message that should be perceived and understood. The financial service providers must take responsibility, cut away the 44 pages, and explain in a perceivable language what the core of the message is. Be honest.
Unexpectedness is about getting the attention in the first place. And once you have the attention – hold it. How? By surprising. Communicating differently. And to the core. Be able to distinguish between truth and reality. One might think to know the truth about his or her company, while reality is often different – reality is what is said about the company (in the media), how consumers think of it. Expect the difference and act unexpectedly.
Simplicity is the most important element. But since we are talking of TRUST and not STRUT, simplicity comes in fourth. Above everything, communicate in a simple manner. When doing the job as a financial service provider, it is often a matter of legal issues, complicated and very important stuff which can be difficult to express in a simple way. Well, experience tells us to invert the pyramid and forget what we learned about writing a disposition and tell the story chronologically. We should begin at the pointy end, by communicating the point. What is the conclusion? The core in the message we want to communicate?
And finally, Think! About the people we want to communicate with. Rarely, they possess the qualifications to understand everything we intend to tell them. So think about the consumer’s knowledge and imagine what it is like not knowing what you yourself know.
Lately, the financial sector has been losing its good reputation and thereby the trust in it has vanished too. The gentleman and business magnate, Warren Buffet, points out the issue:
“If you lose dollars for the firm, I will be understanding. If you lose reputation, I will be ruthless.”
Improve the reputation by establishing and exercising TRUST, and maybe we can stop overloading the financial ombudsmen with work. And hopefully, a certain gentleman will have mercy.
This post is written by Esben Høstager, Senior Partner and Senior Communications Advisor and Sara Stendevad, Communications and Analytics Assistant at Jøp, Ove & Myrthu A/S, Denmark