February 5, 2019

Trust: Inside the Banking Royal Commission

A ‘once-in-a-generation’ Banking Royal Commission has highlighted the flaws of existing financial regulation and left many asking how the established financial institutions can possibly rebuild trust with Australian customers.

The Commission’s report savages the motivation and conduct of the big banks, their boards and senior management, describing organisational cultures which focussed purely on profit with service a poor second.

Given the much-heralded potential of technology to disrupt the banking industry and the willingness of the public to try alternatives, why hasn’t the landscape changed already? Must it take a Royal Commission and more regulation before these enterprises behave ethically? Why hasn’t there been more significant disruption from within the industry, yet?

There’s a simple reason for this.


A crucial component of any financial transaction, trust is the gateway to a lifetime of customer value. A fragile thing which once lost can be almost impossible to earn back, as the big four banks are discovering at their cost.

So how do you design-in trust as you design, develop and deliver digital financial services?

After all, creating trusted, secure and sustainable financial products which customers feel confident enough to recommend to their family and friends should be the goal of all of us creating innovative financial solutions to serve our communities better.

At Eliza_ we work with clients to co-design products and services that build trust and deliver loyalty.

To succeed, trust has to be designed-in to every step of the process, from initial brand awareness to consideration, conversion – which is where most enterprises stop – so we thoughtfully design ‘beyond the sale’ to create loyalty and advocacy.

Those later steps are as important as the initial ones, yet most businesses focus only on the middle: making the sale whilst neglecting the emotional state of the customer as they enter and leave any engagement. That’s due to a transactional mindset and has been where the big financial institutions have been found most wanting.

Concerned only with short-term bonuses, trailing commissions and share prices, they have neglected to think ‘beyond the sale’ or to consider the good of our communities at the heart of their purpose.

As Josh Frydenberg, the Treasurer and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party put it: “The price paid by our community for this misconduct is immense. There have been broken businesses and the emotional stress and personal pain has broken lives.”

And yet. Change is coming.

A generation of new borrowers will no longer accept services which are not transparent, accountable and trustworthy. To create products and services which meet their new benchmark (and presumably legislation) for financial services, we work with FinTech clients to apply our proven Trust Design methodology, comprised of three crucial pillars:

1. Brand matters

True brand purpose has to be lived out every day or people will quickly sense the dissonance between what you say and do.

This means ensuring that every customer experience (CX) or employee experience (EX) has with your enterprise reinforces your values and position. It is in those small moments that the overall picture emerges. If you say you’re a customer-focussed organisation, yet don’t promptly answer their calls or resolve a dispute, you’ve lost their trust and damaged your reputation, perhaps forever.

Building a clear and trusted reputation is a powerful tool for growth.

We ask our clients:

How does your Brand DNA show up in your product experience?

Designing in your brand purpose is a dynamic differentiator and a way to demonstrate your unique value, every day. And people notice the difference.

2. Beyond the sale

The phrase ‘transactional’ perfectly describes the old mindset typified by the big four.

Profit first and service second.

A new generation of financial providers will make their profits ethically and transparently.

They will help businesses grow and build loyalty over time, by articulating their purpose in a way that adds value not just for shareholders, but for our communities as a whole.

3. Stay in the light

When you have deep insights into the drivers of human behaviours, the ability to leverage real-time data and the technology to nudge or reward certain patterns of behaviour, it’s important that every enterprise acts ethically and considers the best interests of both individuals – and society as a whole – if it wants to build real trust.

Act in this way, even when no one is looking and believe it or not, people will notice. They have a finely tuned radar for inauthentic behaviour.

From shifting people to plans which cost less, to offering free upgrades, those enterprises which treat us well are rewarded with our trust. Our money quickly follows. And then we become advocates.

Dan Bradley

Co-Founder / Head of Brand, Design & Experience

Dan’s award-winning, international expertise in brand, product and service design is driven by his passion for uncovering compelling truths and solving problems. He applies human-centred design practice to create real connection and meaning in everything he does.

If you’d like to know more about how Eliza_ can help you build trust with your customers, get in touch with us via email, phone, or drop in to The Lab and say hello.

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