In the current climate, trust is the component accelerating leading brands. Learning how to build it is the key to sustainable growth.
Truth and trust are the core tenets of reputation and therefore the manifestation of our reputations in each interaction that creates our brand.
If trust is the firm belief in the reliability, truth or ability of someone or something, how many brands do we truly trust? Where is the current temperature on truth and trust? And how can we empower ourselves and our C-Suite colleagues to recognise the component parts of our brand and enable ourselves to manifest our strategic intent through the four key pillars of trust: values, integrity, mutuality and commitment?
In an era of continuous disruption, how are we equipped to understand, manage and react in aligning the benefits of this fundamental topic of trust to our customers and to our businesses? And why is it important to do so?
Why is trust so important?
In today’s world, customers are overwhelmed with a plethora of products and services, accessing these over a range of locations and channels. While the digital age presents a large magnitude of opportunity for businesses to market and sell their products and services, it also leads to the exponential growth of competition, with customers having an unmatched selection of products at their fingertips.
As a result, customer expectations are now higher than ever before. No longer simply focused on the functionality of products and services, customers now want more. Taking note of how leading companies in customer experience, for example Amazon and Netflix, treat them and go above and beyond to meet their needs, customers now expect this treatment from a wider range of companies and are disgruntled when they don’t get it.
These enhanced customer experiences form the foundation of building a trusted relationship that customers know they can rely on. Brand image and reputation are the consequence of these customer experiences, with trust being a core component.
How to build trust?
Trust between a company and its customers comes in many forms, baked in to the day-to-day interactions between the two. Like with any relationship, there are a number of key principles that help in the building of trust. By living by these principles and demonstrating genuine authenticity while doing so, customers will gain more and more confidence in your brand having a positive impact on reputation.
Creating shared value is essential for developing an authentic brand and truly connecting with customers. Customers place importance on companies having values, and even more so when a company’s match their own. When customers can relate to a company’s purpose and share their values, the relationship extends past the mere buying and selling interaction, fulfilling a more emotional need to connect and consequently leading to a more trusted relationship.
Integrity is key in the provision of genuine customer experiences, the building of trusted relationships and is a core basis of strong brands. Reputation is made on integrity. As we have already highlighted, trust is an important factor in building our brand and reputations.
What we must remember however is that integrity precedes trust. Similarly, trust goes before customer commitment and loyalty. Trust has to be present in order for customers to invest in the relationship. This trust comes in a number of forms, whether it be trust in handling their money, trust that if a problem arises it will be dealt with in a friendly and effective manner, and trust that the products and services will deliver on their promises. In order to build this trust, brands need to demonstrate their integrity and show that they are genuinely putting their customers' best interests ahead of their own need to make a profit.
Based on the sharing of a feeling, action or relationship between two or more parties, mutuality is a key element to trust. Taking steps to ensure that your customers feel part of a mutually beneficial relationship is important. This will make customers feel valued, important, and as a consequence their loyalty to your brand will be heightened.
Be genuine in your commitments. Live by your promises and never promise to over deliver. In meeting or exceeding your customer expectations in every interaction, companies can build trust overtime.