What Creates Consumer Trust in Businesses, Government? The 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer Says

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Consumer trust in business and government is up from 2012, but organizations still have a long way to go, especially CEOs and top leaders, says the recently released 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer. The annual survey of more than 31,000 respondents across 26 markets around the globe shows that trust in government is up from 43% in 2012 to 48% in 2013 with 16% saying they trust the government a great deal. Trust in business is up from 53% in 2012 to 58% in 2013 with 17% saying they trust businesses a great deal.

The technology industry got top marks in trust even though its percentage is down two points from 79% in 2012 to 77% in 2013. The automotive industry came in second in this year’s poll, up from 66% in 2012 to 69% in 2013. Coming in at the bottom of the business industry categories were banks and financial services with trust percentages sitting at 50% (both percentages were up though from last year).

Building Consumer Trust: Top 5 Attributes
While operational excellence and social responsibility are continuing expectations for top organizations, engagement and integrity matter most in building trust and are seen as key differentiators. The top five attributes cited by respondents in creating consumer trust are:

  1. Offering high quality products or services (63%)
  2. Listening to customer needs and feedback (62%)
  3. Treating employees well (61%)
  4. Placing customers ahead of profits (59%)
  5. Taking responsible action to address an issue or a crisis (58%).

Strong and consistent messaging has never been more important as 64% of respondents say they need to hear information from organizations three to five times in order to believe the message. However, many believe that the CEO or top government official may not be the best individual to deliver the message. The 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer shows traditional authority figures continue to have less trust and credibility than employees (49% consumer trust), academics or experts (68% trust) and “a person like yourself” (60% trust).

Overall Consumer Trust in Business, Government Leaders Low

In fact, “a person like yourself” is now trusted nearly twice as much as a chief executive or government official (43% trust). Because of these low trust levels in leadership, Edelman recommends that leaders consider adopting an inclusive management approach and:

  • Establish a vision and transparently share reasoning, purpose and results.
  • Enlist a broader range of brand or organization advocates, including employees, action consumers, social activists, academics and think tanks, seeking their input and reaction.
  • Embrace all channels of communications, actively listening to new voices of influence and adapting visions and products.
  • Act. Shift from vision to implementation with transparent measures guided by continual engagement.

While the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer shows that overall levels of trust in business and government are up from last year which is something to be celebrated, the numbers show that there is still a lot of work to be done across all industries in listening to, engaging and taking care of customers to earn their consumer trust. For more information on the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer and its results, click here.

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