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Taking advantage of the advocacy economy: put your trust in the stars

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Taking advantage of the advocacy economy: put your trust in the stars

Lisa Ashworth, CEO, Reevoo

Trust is at the heart of the relationship between a finance institution and its customers. It is however a valuable commodity that is increasingly hard to come by in today’s business landscape.

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, 2017 was the first year since the index began (in 2012) that public trust declined across business, government, NGOs and media. In the financial sector, a few high-profile data breaches have shaken consumer trust, and even created some real financial difficulties, such as in the case of TSB’s system migration in early 2018.

Despite all of this, the barometer revealed that trust in financial services has been bucking the trend and gradually rising in the five years up until 2017. Moving into 2018, this has somewhat stalled, but it is still markedly higher than in previous years. So how can finance brands build on this trust?

When it comes to their relationship with consumers, the key is to make sure that there is the right balance of human interaction, a savvy use of technology to protect the consumer and personalised recommendations based on preferences.

The best kind of recommendations are peer-to-peer – as nothing convinces like the convinced. Hardly any prospective customers ignore reviews – 92% check companies out online, while 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

If a bank can show that it not only provides excellent service to customers but can respond to criticism quickly, it will find that its best marketers are in fact its users. We live in an advocacy economy, and it’s important that financial brands acknowledge this and take steps to ensure they are a part of it.

Many marketers already recognise the authenticity that word-of-mouth and peer reviews bring to product endorsements but are unsure how to fully (and safely) tap into it. News around the vulnerabilities that social media platforms have to outside influence (as exposed by the Cambridge Analytica scandal) has made people more sceptical of sources whose identity can’t be verified – from news titles to individuals.

The good news is that genuine peer reviews are easy for brands to access and utilise. At Reevoo, we verify customer identity and ensure they are a ‘real’ customer before asking them to provide feedback on a product or service.

Taking a verified-only approach means that those searching for a new bank or finance institution can trust that the feedback they read is genuine (not posted by a competitor or the company itself). It also gives those businesses the opportunity to listen to – and learn from – their customers.

We encourage building this feedback into the model of how customers are served, allowing for changes in service to be influenced by demand in real time. It is crucial for banks to tap into that resource: not only does this empower customers to shape the service in the way they want, but it encourages customer advocacy.

It may be natural to shy away from inviting criticism from any user base, but independent reviews give customers a voice – especially when organisations can seem faceless or hard to reach. For the banks themselves, criticism shouldn’t sting. It should be valuable market research into product development and service improvement.

What’s more, customers have finely-tuned ‘too good to be true’ detectors. A slew of five-star reviews can only mean two things – the reviews are fake, or someone has been editing out the black marks. Engaging customers means keeping it real, warts and all, while being willing to take criticisms and act on it. If finance brands can do this right they can tap into the best kind of marketing: advocacy.

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Honda’s part self-driving Legend a big step for autonomous tech

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Honda's part self-driving Legend a big step for autonomous tech 1

TOKYO (Reuters) – Honda Motor Co Ltd on Thursday unveiled a partially self-driving Legend sedan in Japan, becoming the world’s first carmaker to sell a vehicle equipped with new, certified level 3 automation technology.

The launch gives Japan’s No.2 automaker bragging rights for being the first to market, but lease sales of the level 3 flagship Legend would be limited to a batch of 100 in Japan, at a retail price of 11 million yen ($102,000).

Still, the new automation technology is a big step towards eliminating human error-induced accidents, chief engineer Yoichi Sugimoto told reporters.

The Legend’s “Traffic Jam Pilot” system can control acceleration, braking and steering under certain conditions.

Once the system is activated, a driver can also watch movies or use the navigation on the screen, helping to mitigate fatigue and stress when driving in a traffic jam, Honda said in a statement.

It can alert the driver to respond when handing over the control, such as vibration on the driver’s seatbelt, the carmaker said. And if the driver continues to be unresponsive, the system will assist with an emergency stop by decelerating and stopping the vehicle while alerting surrounding cars with hazard lights and the horn, it added.

The announcement comes after the Japanese government awarded a safety certification to Honda’s “Traffic Jam Pilot” in November.

Global automakers and tech companies, including Google parent Alphabet Inc’s Waymo and Tesla Inc, have been investing heavily in autonomous driving.

Yet even as the technology advances, regulations on autonomous driving differ from country to country. Audi unveiled an A8 sedan with level 3 technology in 2017 but regulatory hurdles have prevented it from being widely introduced.

Honda has no plans to increase production or sales of a level 3-equipped Legend for now, its operating officer said on Thursday.

($1 = 107.3400 yen)

(Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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Airbus to avoid redundancies in Germany, France, Britain

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Airbus to avoid redundancies in Germany, France, Britain 2

BERLIN (Reuters) – Airbus will make no forced redundancies in France, Germany and Britain, the European planemaker said on Thursday, as it reached an agreement with a German trade union to protect jobs until the end of 2023.

A spokesman for Airbus, which has been hit hard by slumping demand for aircraft in the coronavirus crisis, said other measures – such as voluntary redundancy programmes, early retirement or internal transfers – had been agreed instead.

Negotiations started later in Spain, the spokesman said.

Airbus has been struggling to reach targets to cut staff as part of a restructuring plan affecting up to 15,000 jobs, especially at its headquarters in France and in German plants, sources had earlier told Reuters.

The IG Metall union and works council representing Airbus workers in Germany said they had agreed with the aircraft manufacturer on an overall package to safeguard employment and sites in the country until the end of 2023.

About 1,300 employees at Airbus Germany and 1,000 at Premium Aerotec, a subsidiary that makes large plane components, took voluntary redundancy between November and February, Holger Junge, head of the group works council, told a news conference.

“Production figures have stabilised,” Junge said. “But we have not overcome the crisis.”

Airbus agreed to avoid further job cuts through short-time work and reducing hours by up to 20% from 2022, he said. Airbus employs about 55,000 people in Germany.

In January, Airbus stuck to ambitions for a partial recovery in jet production later this year, although there is speculation that it may have to delay that due to extended coronavirus lockdowns in Europe. [nL1N2JJ1DU]

(Reporting by Christina Amann and Alexander Huebner, writing by Emma Thomasson, editing by Thomas Escritt)

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Shell changes senior UK leadership in global overhaul

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Shell changes senior UK leadership in global overhaul 3

By Ron Bousso

LONDON (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell is changing the senior leadership of its operations in Britain as part of a global overhaul to cut costs and shift away from oil and gas to renewables and power.

Under the changes, which have been announced internally, country chair Sinead Lynch will become Shell’s global head of low-carbon fuels, a company spokeswoman said.

Lynch, who joined the Anglo-Dutch company in 2016 following its acquisition of BG Group, will be replaced by David Bunch who currently runs Shell’s retail business across Europe and South Africa. Bunch joined Shell in 1997.

The changes will take effect in August when Shell rolls out project Reshape, its biggest restructuring in decades as part of plans to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by mid-century and build a large low-carbon and power business.

Under the overhaul, Shell will cut 9,000 jobs, or more than 10% of its workforce.

As part of the management changes, Steve Phimister, head of Shell’s oil and gas operation in the North Sea since 2017, will be replaced by Simon Roddy, currently deputy managing director at Shell’s Nigerian onshore oil and gas joint venture SPDC.

Phimister’s new role in the company has yet to be announced.

Shell has gradually reduced its oil and gas operations and refining business in recent years but Britain remains an important market. The North Sea will remain one of nine main oil and gas hubs, the company said last year.

Shell also has a large retail network in the country and plans to significantly boost its electric vehicle charging point network. In January it agreed to acquire Ubitricity, the largest public EV charging network in Britain with over 2,700 points.

Shell’s European rivals including BP and Total have also set out ambitious long-term plans to slash greenhouse gas emissions and build large renewable energy businesses.

(Reporting by Ron Bousso; Editing by David Clarke)

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