Bruce Temkin thinks it all comes down to a matter of trust.

Over the past five years, he's evaluated thousands of brand perceptions and distilled them all into his company's Temkin Trust Ratings.

Brands that earn trust do so over time -- with consistent customer experiences, he said.

"Trust is built up over time based on the experience that consumers have with the company," said Temkin, customer experience transformist and managing partner of the Waban, Mass.-based Temkin Group.

"The top companies are really good at meeting their brand promises. That's why the companies at the top of the list have employees that understand and are bought into the company's mission and its brand promises. They're committed to earning the trust of customers. They tend to do really well in our Temkin Experience Ratings as well, showing that they deliver great customer experience."

Who's the Best?

Based on the study of 10,000 US consumers, H-E-B and credit unions took the top spots in the 2015 Temkin Trust Ratings. The ratings system includes 293 companies across 20 industries. USAA took three of the next four spots for its banking, insurance and credit card business, while supermarket chain Publix rounds out the top six firms.

Who's Not So Hot?

Comcast earned the two lowest spots in the 2105 Temkin Trust Ratings for its TV and Internet service businesses. Charter Communications, Coventry Health Care, Time Warner Cable (for both its TV and Internet service businesses), Consolidated Edison of New York, Cox Communications and Spirit Airlines also cracked the bottom.

"While you build trust over time, you can lose it much more quickly," Temkin told CMSWire. "Although the companies at the bottom of the list, Comcast and Charter Communications, have been building up distrust for years, they score low on just about every dimension of customer feedback that we examine. Consumers have reached the point where they expect to be mistreated even before they reach out to the companies at the bottom of the list."

Temkin's team also produced a few other numbers to note:

  • Only 6 percent of firms earned "excellent" ratings (above 70 percent) and 28 percent earned "good" ratings (60 percent to 70 percent)
  • Supermarket chains at 67 percent earned the highest level of trust. Three other industries earned "good" ratings: insurance carriers, retailers and parcel delivery services
  • TV service providers (32 percent) and Internet service providers (34 percent) earned average scores in the "very poor" range, while wireless carriers (44 percent), health plans (46 percent), and utilities (49 percent) earned average scores in the "poor" range

Build Trust

Temkin said it's simple: build trust with customers by being honest and delivering on what you promise. That, he said, does not require any specific technologies or tools.

"It's more about a mindset," he said, "and a deep commitment to customers."

Companies that avoid negative publicity and create strong customer experiences build a "strong word of mouth brand association that heightens a level of intrigue amongst people who may not have been personally introduced to their products yet," said Kathy Juve, chief marketing officer of Campbell, Calif.-based [24]7, a customer engagement for sales and service.

Retailers and supermarkets in the Temkin top 25 rely on intense customer loyalty to keep shoppers coming back to their stores in order to thrive in a highly competitive environment, Juve said.

"There are very few customer horror stories out there regarding these brands," she added, "because they’re focused on efficiency, quality and highly personable level of customer interaction."

'Broken Customer Journey'

Juve finds poor customer journeys with the Temkin bottom-tier companies. 

"There are many examples of customers posting their negative experiences with some of these companies online, showcasing how they interacted in two different channels, had to start all over, then received two completely different answers across two different interactions – whether on the same channel or across different channels such as chat and voice," she said. "It’s another lesson for companies that by leveraging all the different customer channels and ensuring that a consumer’s journey remains consistent and effortless, they’re less likely to end up in these horror stories that are shared across social media."

Companies that don’t have a seamless omnichannel experience, she said, risk losing customers who are frustrated by having to start all over and explain their situation every time they interact in any channel.

"With all the data that companies collect on customers," Juve said, "the need to start all over is inexplicable to customers."

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by Terry Johnston.