Lost Trust Is a Fertile Field for Discontent

Everywhere I turned in Chicago last week, I saw colorful banners and posters for the upcoming Bank of America marathon.

But that old-school “feel good” messaging was drowned out by BofA’s announcement that it plans to start charging customers $5 a month for using their debit cards.

There’s a good reason for the new charge, BofA contends, because the fee retailers pay on debit-card transactions has been cut thanks to new government regulations.

But, just like the marathon signage, that message isn’t being heard because customers are just fed up. What they hear instead is the sound of greed, bailouts, mismanagement, outrageous executive salaries, mortgage foreclosures and lost jobs.

None of those things is directly related. (Or even true.) But they have been conflated because BofA has lost our trust; and lost trust is a fertile field for rumor, innuendo, “social reality”—and discontent.

If BofA ever hopes to restore that trust, it has a run a marathon of its own, but not on the streets of Chicago. That rebuilding process can only take place by genuinely putting its customers first.

Bank of America’s communications team needs to have a stronger voice (and, when needed, a veto) in those decisions.

Photo by storm2K on Flickr.com, (cc) some rights reserved.