In a digital world where face-to-face interactions are becoming less common, how can financial brands establish trust with their customers?

Trust is the foundation of successful relationships, and in the financial services industry, it is crucial for building credibility and loyalty. Unfortunately, there is currently a trust gap, with many millennials feeling like they have no one they can trust for financial guidance. Only a mere 8% of millennials trust financial institutions.

So, where do people turn for answers and guidance? Social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Google have become popular sources of information for the younger generation. The question is, are financial brands present on these platforms to offer the help and guidance people are seeking?

The top 3 insights from this article:

  • The difference between a customer experience and a relationship
  • How communication has changed drastically and isn't done yet
  • The 5 pillars of trust you should be building with your end user

The Importance of Trust in the Digital Age

Trust plays a vital role in how we conduct business in a digital world. Establishing trust can take time, as it requires building a positive reputation and consistently delivering on promises. On the other hand, trust can be easily depleted if communication or actions create doubts or misunderstandings. Trust is like a fund that sits between people's ears, and making deposits into that fund is essential for influencing their buying decisions and behaviors related to money. And trust is built upon two things: What you say and what you do. Your actions and your words. 

Pillars of Digital Trust: Simplicity, Content, Compassion, Connection, and Commit

To build trust in a digital world, financial brands need to focus on five pillars that establish and expand trust with their customers:

Simplicity: Simplifying the complex nature of money is crucial for providing clarity and alleviating confusion. By transforming lengthy paragraphs and bullet points into headlines and using related iconography, financial brands can communicate their offerings in a visually engaging and easily understandable way. Research shows that the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than written content, making visual communication a powerful tool. Furthermore, 93% of all communication is visual. Even going back to ancient history, the way people communicated was essentially through iconography. Long paragraphs can inadvertently addd complexity to the buying journey.

Content: Content is the primary mode of communication in the digital world. While there are different types of content - articles, podcasts, and videos - financial brands should establish a culture of helping first and selling second. By creating content that addresses customers' needs, concerns, and pain points, banks and credit unions can connect with them on a deeper, more empathetic level. Consumer personas play a vital role in understanding customers' perspectives and tailoring content to their specific needs.

Compassion: Traditionally, we've positioned our financial products through a very narcissistic lens. Financial brands should move away from a narcissistic approach and focus on solving customers' problems. By understanding and empathizing with their challenges, financial brands can connect with customers on an emotional level and gain their trust. 

Connection: People connect with people, even in a digital world. Banks and credit unions should include real images of their customers and community members in their digital narratives. Investing time in building a library of authentic photography and video can help humanize the brand and create stronger connections with customers. Think about who your account holders are. Are they teachers? Are they nurses? Perhaps small business owners? Let the people in the communities that you serve be the heroes of the digital narratives and stories that you tell.

Commit: Financial brands must make a committed shift to prioritize digital channels for growth. This requires a cultural and human transformation within the organization. Education and coaching are necessary to help employees embrace change, break free from legacy thinking, and adopt a customer-centric approach. By fully committing to digital channels, financial brands can meet customers where they are and guide them towards a brighter financial future.

Take Action Today:

  • Embrace Digital Channels:  Establish a strong presence on platforms such as social media, YouTube, and Google. Create informative and engaging content that addresses customers' financial concerns and provides valuable guidance. Actively monitor and respond to customer inquiries and comments on these platforms to foster engagement and build trust.
  • Simplify Communication: Transform lengthy paragraphs and bullet points into visually appealing content with headlines and iconography. Consider the use of imagery, videos, and other visual elements to simplify complex financial concepts and make them more accessible to customers. 
  • Cultivate Empathy and Human Connection: Develop consumer personas that capture the pain points and aspirations of the target audience. Create content that genuinely helps customers by addressing their concerns and providing practical solutions. Incorporate real images of people from the community to humanize the brand and establish a sense of authenticity. Continually seek feedback from customers and use it to refine strategies and better meet their needs.

In an industry plagued by a lack of trust, financial brands have an opportunity to differentiate themselves by focusing on these five pillars of trust. By simplifying communication, creating relevant content, empathizing with customers, fostering connections, and fully committing to digital channels, financial brands can bridge the trust.

For more about financial transformation, reach out to James Robert Lay at the Digital Growth Institute.