It’s not you, it’s a bigger problem – trust issues in Canadian business

May 1, 2017 - The Gustavson Brand Trust Index has measured the impact of trust since 2014, producing an annual ranking of 294 brands. The team behind the project continues to witness the impacts to major companies that do not focus on the critical pillar of business – consumer confidence in a brand  – and have identified what they believe represented the Top five trust issues in 2017.

The aggressive upsell at your neighbourhood bank branch

When it was revealed that staff members of Canada’s major banks were employing potentially illegal sales tactics to meet high sales revenue goals, Canadians began to re-examine their bank statements. Customers found charges for accounts they didn’t want and investments they hadn’t confirmed. Further erosion of trust came to the forefront when staff members reached out to share the pressure they were placed under to meet sales targets. A call for government to investigate and intervene was launched by multiple consumer rights advocates.

An airline bill of rights for Canadians

Seen around the world, the decision by United Airlines to forcibly remove a passenger from a plane was one event of what would turn out to be numerous incidents that placed passengers against airlines on both sides of the Canada-USA border. When Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced plans for an airline passenger bill of rights, Canadians took note, and indicated that the industry as a whole needed to do better.

Big data helps protect consumers during a recall

A Vancouver Island-wide milk recall was issued when Agropur found that milk containers has been tampered with, challenging the highly-trusted brand to respond to consumer concerns. While the daily news media assisted with promotion of the recall, Costco Wholesale took the extra step of calling customers who had purchased the recalled milk, evidence of the ability for the major retailer to use the data collected at the checkout counter to track items purchased by their members.

Let’s talk mental health support

The highly-publicized, “Let’s Talk,” mental health campaign heralded by Bell across the country was challenged when more than 600 company employees came forward to express their concerns about a lack of support for their own mental health in the company’s offices and call centres. The company challenged the assertions, and pointed out their extensive training and support programs.

When emissions linger

Volkswagen continues to suffer from brand trust due to their emissions reporting evasion and cover-up, with a US-based executive being sentenced to a multi-year prison sentence in December 2017, and the multi-billion dollar losses resulting from a recall of more than 100,000 vehicles in Canada, and 600,000 vehicles in the United States. The story doesn’t seem to be going away, and it is telling that the brand ranks dead last on the 2017 Gustavson Brand Trust Index.

“Disagreements between consumers and major companies are not new, but with the increasing use of social media as a platform for consumers to spread their reactions when a brand performs poorly, it is even more critical to a business’ success to ensure that upholding trust is at the forefront of corporate decisions,” says Dr. Saul Klein, Dean of the Gustavson School of Business and one of the leads of the Gustavson Brand Trust Index. “Canadians were confronted this past year with missteps and poorly executed recovery plans, and continued to raise concerns about how they were treated, eroding their trust in several brands.”

In May 2017, the annual Gustavson Brand Trust Index revealed the country’s most trusted brands, with membership-based enterprises securing the top three spots: Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), CAA, and Costco Warehouse respectively. Rounding out the top ten are Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, IKEA, Chapters/Indigo, President’s Choice, Interac, Cirque du Soleil and WestJet.

The Gustavson Brand Trust Index studies how community engagement, relationship management, and customer experience influences consumer trust. The next Gustavson Brand Trust Index will be unveiled in early May 2018.

Learn more about the Gustavson Brand Trust Index.