According to market research company Morpace Inc., 71% of consumers are confident in their primary personal bank. However, only 44% have confidence in the financial strength of banks in general.
"It's a lot like people don't trust Congress, but they trust their own congressman," Tom Hartley, vice president of customer loyalty for Morpace, tells Marketing Daily. "People are confident in what they know and what they trust. And if they don't have the confidence in their banks, they would switch."
Although they are confident in their personal banks, the financial institutions should take some time to communicate directly and openly with their customers.
"Consumers are not panicking now. But there's still a lot of nervousness as a whole," Hartley says. "Banks still need to reassure their customers that everything is fine."
The survey of more 1,100 consumers was conducted Sept. 9-16, the week before Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, Bank of America bought Merrill Lynch and the government announced a bailout plan for insurance company AIG. Since then, J.P. Morgan Chase bought Washington Mutual and Citigroup purchased Wachovia Securities.
Robert Passikoff, president of BrandKeys, agrees that banks--both as individual institutions and the banking industry--need to be proactive to regain consumers' trust. "This is the financial version of the Tylenol poisonings," Passikoff tells Marketing Daily. "The trust is going to come from the ways companies like Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase are behaving, putting customers ahead of absolute profitability."
BrandKeys, which maintains a Consumer Loyalty Index, recently ranked the country's eight largest banks based on consumer trust. Although conducted before the recent wave of purchases, Bank of America ranked highest, and JPMorgan Chase ranked second. Wachovia ranked sixth, and Washington Mutual was eighth.