More on Customer Trust


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Following on from my earlier post about Abusing Customer Trust, I spotted two other titbits that add to the story.

First-up was a post on Fred Stutzman’s Unit Structures blog about ‘Facebook and (the Nonsaleability of) Your Data’. Stutzman contrasts Facebook’s Terms of Service which says that Facebook owns all data on-line, with a statement on its Developers Platform that say members own their own on-line data. Both of the statements can’t be right. Facebook faces the same challenge that other on-line communities faces if it starts to mine and sell insights about its members to 3rd-parties. Customer trust is a hard-earned thing; companies squander it (particularly in pursuit of a quick buck) at their peril.

Straight after that I can across a post on Joseph Jaffe’s Jaffe Juice blog about ‘Stengel Nails It Again’. Jim Stengel, P&G’s Global CMO, was speaking at the AAAA’s conference on the need for companies to develop honest, trustworthy, authentic brands based upon real conversations with customers, rather than the usual ‘tell-it and sell-it’ marketing. He went on to say that companies needed to develop ‘generous brands’ that provide more benefits for customers than brands do today. Examples Stengel gave included easy stuff like Starbucks composting coffee grounds and Amazon giving others users’ reviews away, and more difficult stuff like, P&G’s own Aerial brand creating a safe place to wash clothes in Caracas, Venezuela.

One negative example and one positive one. Both focusing on the need to develop trust with customers through ongoing conversations.

What do you think? Is trust becoming more important in marketing? Or is this just another desperate attempt to trick customers into buying?

Post a comment and get the conversation going.

Graham Hil

Graham Hill (Dr G)
Business Troubleshooter | Questioning | Thoughtful | Industrious | Opinions my own | Connect with me on LinkedIn


  1. Customer trust IS becoming more important in marketing, primarily because the customers are demanding it more frequently than in the past. Customer indifference to the provider of goods, services, and, hopefully, experiences, is not the norm any longer. The customers are becoming increasingly militant about the kinds of relationships they want with a company, not just the products they care to purchase. Consequently, like most things in life, trust is at the forefront of their concerns about a company. IF one believes that marketing’s new role is as the lead conversationalist between the company and the customer and not just a hypemeister, then trust becomes paramount, because if you can’t trust what you hear, you can’t trust what you buy. But that doesn’t mean that marketing departments buy into it. They prefer what they know – price, product, place, promotion – which, while certainly not to be ignored, is no longer the critical factor when it comes to marketing. The 4Ps say the company is paramount in the relationship; the customer is making it bidirectional. So trust has to be at the core of that message – even when the companies’ marketing departments have to be dragged kicking, screaming and promoting to the conversation.

    Paul Greenberg
    Author: CRM at the Speed of Light, 3rd Edition

  2. Customer Trust is no different from the basic trust which we need to establish personal relationships. There is no big issue here. It it about delivering what we have said we are going to deliver, when we have said we are going to deliver it.

    I was in a new relationship recently. He promised to be here at a certain time, and was very late. It hit me that one of the reasons I have the friends I have, is because I trust them – and that trust has only been built on delivery of what they said they were going to do. That trust has now developed to an extent where I can rely on them.

    As I said to this particular person, “I can’t trust what you say, and it is no different to how I view my business relationships, and what underpins my entire belief system.”

    Business relationships are no different. Deliver what you say you are going to deliver, when you have said you will.

    I recently contracted a new firm to deal with my IT/Hardware issues. The guy I deal with is great – very comfortable with his expertise. After his last visit, I was really impressed to receive a call from their head office wanting to know if I was satisfied! I said yes, but since then, I have had problems, and would like him to call back. He rang me after that – I was busy and he left a message. Said he would ring me back. I was so impressed – but that was 5 weeks ago now! This actually meant more business to them, and was no reflection on his work. I was very happpy to pay whatever he charged. So where is the trust? Where is the appreciation of “me” as a cusomter?

    If I know that I will be even a few minutes late for an appointment – whether it be personal or business – I always ring and let them know. Because I value the commitment they made to me to be there at a certain time, and I want them to know that I appreciate that.

    We are assuming here that the product lives up to their expectations – once again, a trust issue.

    We are all people – we react as people, whether it be business or personal relaationships. Trust is essential in our relationships – we just need to understand how we build that trust.

    Cathy Allington
    Grow Your Own Business

  3. Paul

    Thank you for your comment.

    I think it is important to think about the broader relationship with customers. Veronica Liljander in her research on ‘real relationships’ identifies a number of factors as being important, including, shared goals, mutual trust, a sense of committment, a two-way dialogue and also an absence of barriers to exit. Trust is critical but it is only a part of a bigger picture.

    Interestingly, Liljander reckons that only 5-10% of most companies’ customers could be considered to have real relationships with the companies. I wonder what sort of relationships the rest have. And what could be done to improve them.

    Graham Hill


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