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Only half of Americans trust business as an institution, per recent research, a problem given that trusting relationships are considered critical for customers, who are more likely to buy and recommend products from trusted companies. So which companies are the most – and least – trusted in the US? The Temkin Group provides some answers in a new study.

To arrive at its rankings, the Temkin Group sought the opinions of 10,000 US consumers, who evaluated their recent interactions with 318 companies across 20 industries. Respondents were asked the degree to which they trust that the companies will take care of their needs, giving a score to the companies on a 7-point scale. The firm then took the percentage of respondents giving a rating of 6 or 7 for each company and subtracted from that the percentage giving the company a rating of 1, 2, or 3. The resulting score was the Temkin Trust Rating (TTR), from which the rankings were derived.

USAA Leads All

It was a strong showing for USAA. The company, as a Banking provider – with a TTR score of 81% – led all 318 measured and was the only to exceed an 80% rating.

USAA also scored highly for its Credit Cards (75%) and Insurance (75%) offerings, coming in joint fifth for those financial services.

This isn’t the first time USAA has topped a consumer ranking. Last year, YouGov identified it as the brand that customers would be most likely to recommend. The company has also previously led the Temkin Group’s web experience ratings.

Behind USAA and in the #2 spot for trust this year is Wegmans (TTR of 79%). The supermarket topped all companies in the Temkin Group’s customer experience ratings this year, and is considered the second most reputable company in the US, according to the latest annual Harris Poll Reputation Quotient (RQ) also released earlier this year.

Comcast Trails All

Comcast has the dubious distinction of having the worst trust rating of all 318 companies, at a paltry score of 22%. The TV/Internet service – which is one of the largest advertisers in the US, with a strong presence on the radio and in out-of-home – also has one of the worst-rated customer experiences of any company and has been battling TV subscriber losses.

Three other companies joined Comcast in having TTR scores below 30%. They are: Charter Spectrum; Optimum; and Cox Communications. These companies all figured among the lowest in terms of customer experience, also, perhaps signaling a link between customer experience and trust.

Supermarkets and Financial Services Score Well; TV/ISPs Terribly

As it turns out, Banks represented 4 of the top 8 companies by trust rating this year, with Supermarkets adding in another two of the top 8. The remaining companies in the top 8 were in the Credit Cards and Insurance industry, such that Supermarkets and Financial Services companies took all of the top 8 spots.

By contrast, TV and Internet Service Providers occupied each of the bottom 4 positions in the rankings, and 7 of the bottom 11 overall.

If the leaders and laggards of the trust ratings aren’t enough of an indication, the aggregate industry scores are another reflection. The Supermarket industry ended up on top with the highest average TTR score of 66%, ahead of Investment Firms (62%), Insurance Companies (62%), and somewhat surprisingly, Auto Dealers (61%). (Car salespeople are some of the least trusted professionals in the US, trusted more than only lobbyists.)

Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, TV/Internet Service Providers had an aggregate trust score of just 32%, which is less than half than that of Supermarkets. In fact, TV/Internet Service Providers’ composite score was well below that of the next-lowest rated industry, Health Plans (49%).

Despite figuring prominently among the top companies, Banks were middle of the pack as an industry. That was due to a wide range in scores that brought down the average, as Wells Fargo (40%) was one of the least trusted companies.

Overall, each of the 20 industries experienced a decline in composite trust score from 2017. The largest decline was felt by Utilities (-6.2% points), while Health Plans had the steadiest rating, down just 0.9% points.

Other Study Highlights

  • There were 8 companies with trust ratings that were at least 15 points higher than their industry’s average. These companies included USAA, Advantage Rent-A-Car, Regions Bank and Navy Federal Credit Union.
  • There were also 8 companies earning trust ratings at least 15 points below their industry’s average. These included Days Inn, CarMax, Wells Fargo, and Spirit Airlines.
  • The most improved company was Showtime, up by 13% points year-over-year. Other standouts in terms of improvements included Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Foot Locker and Family Dollar.
  • The biggest decline in trust rating was reserved for Appalachian Power Company, down a massive 26% points. Other companies dropping by at least 15 points included Sprit Airlines, Jeep, CarMax and HSBC, among others.

More ratings are available here, and the full dataset can be purchased here.

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