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The most-trusted companies earn the best reputation and, in most instances, great success. But how do we measure trust? In its annual “Temkin Trust Ratings,” the Temkin Group attempts to do so by analyzing feedback from 10,000 U.S. consumers regarding more than 200 companies.

Its 2012 edition shows that just 19% of large U.S. firms earned a “very strong” trust rating. The companies considered most trustworthy were found to be USAA, credit unions, H.E.B., Publix, Chick-fil-A, Sam’s Club, Hy-Vee and BMW. After examining industry averages, Temkin found that grocery chains have earned the highest trust ratings, followed by investment firms, retailers and parcel delivery services.

On the other hand, very few consumers trust cable companies, internet providers and credit card issuers. The study found that consumers are least likely to trust Charter Communications, Citigroup, Bank of America, HSBC, Time Warner Cable, Comcast and Qwest.

“No matter what industry you’re in, it’s a major problem if your customers don’t trust you,” said Bruce Temkin, managing partner of Temkin Group. There is an overall silver lining, however. In analyzing changes between 2011 and 2012, research found that consumer trust had increased across all 18 industries included in the survey.
Emily Holbrook is the founder of Red Label Writing, LLC, a writing, editing and content strategy firm catering to insurance and risk management businesses and publications, and a former editor of Risk Management.