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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Credibility. Critical to all, but more so to some.

How credible does a service have to be in the eyes of its customers?

It depends on what the service means to the people that use it.

Imagine you visit the ecommerce portal for one of your most-used service experiences.

The site is down.

Inconvenient. You wanted to use them today. You feel a little dissatisfied at the (lack of) an expected interaction, but not too put out by it.

Now imagine that the service business is a bank. Maybe they look after a lot of your money, maybe just a little. But your money nonetheless.

The angst grows just a little. “It’s my money. I demand access whenever / however I want it.” (Of course, forgetting weekends in college where you had to hand a withdrawal slip to a teller on Friday to get you through a weekend’s worth of social activities.)

Somewhere in the back of your mind, it occurs to you that this bank is one of the “too big to fail” banks. That for the last couple of years, it has been mentioned in the same conversations as AIG, Fanny & Freddy, and more recently, Greece.

Surely nothing is happening – of course not, it’s all insured (Note to self: review the FDIC site one of these days to see just what is insured) – but still, the thought creeps into your head, doesn’t it?

I don’t care if the company that made my toaster goes out of business. Oh sure, in the macro sense perhaps, but not in the way where I get concerned about a direct personal impact.

But service experiences with ongoing relationships carry an expectation of stability & credibility. It’s part of how customers evaluate reliability. The deeper the personal investment in the relationship, the more critical the evaluation. Because a person’s money is involved, banks are about as deep as a personal investment in a service gets.

Consumers’ brand decisions are a reflection of themselves, and particularly their ability to make good decisions. If what people see & hear about a brand strikes at its credibility, they judge it more harshly. The negative press may put them onto the attrition ledge, but it can be a small thing that sends them over.

Like a site outage. That still isn’t resolved overnight.

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