Just like a first date, customers trust you until they don’t

29/05/2020

Aaron Dickinson

Head of Product, Portfolio and Analysis, AA Insurance

A couple of weeks ago it was announced that AA Insurance maintained its position as one of New Zealand’s top-five most-trusted companies according to the Colmar Brunton Reputational Survey.

With this, I realised it was time to start lifting my head out of the Covid-19 quagmire and focus on the future again, which meant achieving a big company goal - earning the trust of every New Zealander. Yes, not just every customer, but every New Zealander. A lofty goal some may say, but not an unreasonable one. Yet, it had me questioning the traditional ways we think about earning trust and, given the topsy-turvy time, wondering if this was a bit outdated.

Interestingly, the psychology behind trust is a little unexpected.  We often hear that the goal is to ‘build trust’, yet the truth is that people don’t actually work like that. We don’t build trust from zero. In fact, the reverse happens. People inherently trust one another until the trust is eroded. Therefore, if we want to maintain trust, we must look for and solve activities that erode trust, do it for everyone, and behave in ways that people expect us to.

Put it like this, if you want to earn trust on your first date, would you try building it with a folder of written testimonies about your reliability from friends and family? No. It’s the opposite. If you don’t want to erode trust, the best thing you can do is to remember to text your date when you said you would.

But is it possible to know how we’ve eroded the trust of our customers? We’ll know when, because they’ll move to a competitor but if we could know how, then perhaps we could do something to stop them from leaving. In my team, we decided to use the term ‘erode trust’ as the jumping off point for reviewing our current state and challenging some sacred cows. The work involved finding instances of when we don’t behave as a customer might expect us to. We didn’t do this because we felt we could fix everything we found; we did it because we needed to get started. Our company vision demands that we go looking for the erosion of trust, and this means re-looking at actions we might have explained away in the past.

We called this process our Trust Audit and we’ve picked five opportunities that our customer research showed were most pressing. They are decisions that don’t operate the way people expect and cause them to question whether we’re being fair and trustworthy. I won’t go into the details of each, but they include things like asking a customer about another person’s driving history, whom they’ve listed on their policy, and why an agreed value for a car goes down while sometimes the premium goes up.

I know other companies do this type of audit too, to maintain or grow the trust of their customers, but if you haven’t yet then perhaps now’s a good time to consider it?  We’re looking at issues that are within our control and we can determine the impact of changing them. We should change them if we think there is more benefit in upholding a position of trust than doing what we’ve always done. We also must balance the impact of these changes against the company vision in its entirety which, for AA Insurance, means earning the trust of all New Zealanders, by protecting what matters most. For us, it’s also making the changes that ensure we still offer affordable premiums to our customers.

Our vision means challenging long-standing beliefs to see if we can do something different. It’s one way we’re looking toward our future in the ‘new normal’.

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About AA Insurance

AA Insurance is an independently operated, New Zealand-based joint venture between the New Zealand Automobile Association (NZAA) and Vero Insurance New Zealand Limited (VINZL). Since 1994 we have demonstrated trusted expertise in home, contents and car insurance in New Zealand, and in 2018 introduced commercial small business insurance. We underwrite our own policies and sell direct to New Zealanders. Our 750+ staff look after 430,000 customers with nearly 850,000 policies.

We proudly partner with Eden Park, support youth charity Blue Light, and have been consistently recognised by: Reader’s Digest Most Trusted Brands (10 consecutive years since 2011) and Quality Service Award for Car Insurance (since 2015), Canstar Blue Most Satisfied Customers (2013-2018), and the Colmar Brunton Corporate Reputation Index (since 2015) that recognises New Zealand’s most successful companies. Last year, AA Insurance was also named Consumer’s 2019 People’s Choice award winner for car, home and contents.

AA Insurance has an A+ (Strong) Insurer Financial Strength Rating given by Standard and Poor’s (Australia) Pty Ltd. For further information visit aainsurance.co.nz.

For more information please contact:

Nicole Steven, Botica Butler Raudon Partners, (09) 303 3862, 021 025 31886 or email nicoles@botica.co.nz

Amanda Fifield, AA Insurance Limited, 027 406 1787 or email Amanda_Fifield@aainsurance.co.nz

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