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The implosion of trust and what to do about it

Adrian Swinscoe | Feb 16, 2017 42 views No Comments

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For the last 17 years, Edelman, a global communications marketing firm, has published it’s Trust Barometer, an annual survey of more than 33,000 respondents from around the world that investigates the state of trust and credibility that exists between individuals and different types of organisations (government, media, business and NGOs).

Earlier this month they published the 2017 edition of the Trust Barometer and their results suggest that over the course of the last year there has been an implosion of trust in ‘the institutions of business, media, government and NGOs’.

The survey goes on to find that:

  • Respondents considered ‘people like themselves’ as ‘just as credible a source of information’ as technical or academic experts and they are deemed way more credible than a CEO or government official.
  • Moreover, employees, on average, are trusted much more than CEOs when speaking on issues like employee/customer relations, financial performance, crises, innovation and issues related to their industry or programmes designed to address societal concerns.
  • Finally, the survey also found that when it comes to building trust in a company the three most important attributes of trusted firms are those that:
    • 1. Treat employees well,
    • 2. Offer high-quality products and services, and
    • 3. Listen to their customers.

Companies that are serious about building the relationships and the trust that they have with their customers would do well to heed the findings of the Edelman survey. They should also consider what adjustments they can and should be making to take into account of the shifting trust landscape.

Based on the survey highlights, here’s some suggestions as to how companies can build their trust dividend with their customers:

  • If ‘a person like yourself’ is just as credible a source of information than a technical or academic expert and much, much more credible than a CEO, companies should be working even harder to get their customers and technical/expert employees to speak and advocate for them as much as possible.
  • Companies should treat all employees well. But, companies should allow their employees to tell their own stories and those that do are likely to be the ones that stand out from the crowd and build increased levels of trust with their customers.
  • Customers are increasingly discerning when it comes to the products and services that they buy. Therefore, in order to compete and develop a platform of trust, the ability to offer high-quality products and services should be a given or, at the very least, table stakes.
  • The majority of companies say that they listen to their customers. But, just listening is not enough. Companies that want to develop increased levels of trust with their customers have to show that they are not just listening but are also learning and responding to any feedback that they are given. The most trusted players will be those that listen, respond and then report back on what they have done, what happened and what they are going to do next.

The world is changing and Edelman’s survey findings suggest that those companies that build the most trust with their customers will be the ones that are most likely to win. The winners are likely to be those that are more open, responsive and leverage the collective voices of both their employees and their customers.

This post was originally published on my column on Forbes.com here.
Photo Credit: CarbonNYC [in SF!] Flickr via Compfight cc

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Republished with author's permission from original post.


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