Trust is more important than ever in today’s fast paced, global ecosystem. It must also go beyond the traditional trust desired from your customer base. Trust plays a critical role both internally and externally with all stakeholders towards long term success. Jeff Bezos in his recent letter to shareholders touches on this. “One thing I love about customers is that they are divinely discontent. Their expectations are never static – they go up.” said Bezos (full letter here). If you can trust your customer base to act a certain way, then you have the ability to plan for that. Assuming an organization does not do anything to break that bond of trust, trusting that your customers are “divinely discontent” and will react in such a manner means organizations must always strive to be a better version of themselves.
The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer suggests that trust is in short supply around the world, declining in the four institutions individuals count on to tell the truth: government, business, NGOs, and media. Trust also plays a large part in the of survival and success of an organization. In today’s day and age, customers have many tools at their disposal to uncover the truth about an organization, which is why trust has become a critical component of any relationship. It is crucial that trust is built carefully and consistently over time. In today’s blog post, we are looking at the best ways an organization can build trust.
Stakeholders do not expect perfection. Experience shows that customers, team members, investors, management, etc. all expect there to be hiccups once and a while. “Being imperfect is to be human” as the old adage goes. Knowing that, stakeholders of all descriptions want transparency. They want to see mis-steps acknowledged and learned from. Sweeping these moments under the rug has two severe side effects. Firstly, not being transparent erodes trust faster than it can ever be earned. “Trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair.” – source unknown. Secondly, when these moments are acknowledged openly, there is an inherently deeper learning that occurs. With that learning, experience is gained and experience is a tool that empowers individuals to not repeat the same mistakes.
Consumers are able to access a vast amount of information with just the click of a mouse. According to a 2016 study by Label Insight, more than 73 percent of consumers consider transparency more important than price. Nearly 40 percent say they would switch from their preferred brand to one that was more being more transparent with them. This does not mean that organizations have to spill every last secret. To deliver on transparency, it is crucial that an organization master the art of open communication.
An organizations values start at the top with leadership. Strong leaders do not simply form truthful statements, they are constantly reinforcing them. It is important that organizations make a “human connection” with all stakeholders by expressing their values and sharing experiences. This can be done through a number of channels, but what is most important is that the communication is authentic. By expressing your organizations values authentically and showing that there are individuals behind your organization, a foundation of trust can be built.
We have all heard the saying – the devil is in the details. This does not ring truer than when an organization is building trust. The details can be what will set your organization apart from the competition. Organizations need to prioritize consistency. When their brand promise is consistently delivered the organization, they become reliable and as they become reliable – trust is born.
Building trust has never been more important for organizations. It needs to be prioritized among all stakeholders. It starts with being transparent, identifying organizational and/or personal values and authentically communicating them, becoming reliable by consistently delivering on the brand promise.