The topics of customer trust and customer confidence have come up in conversations a few times recently, especially as it relates to pandemic and post-pandemic actions by several companies. More on that in a moment. To start with, I thought I’d take a closer look.
What is confidence? It is “the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust.” OK, what then is trust, since it’s used in the definition of confidence? Trust is “a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” Trust and confidence are very closely linked.
So we’re talking about reliability, strength, truth, certainty, goodness, integrity. What else? I’ve written about trust many times before, including linking it to your brand promise… and I think a consistent theme has been, well, consistency. Here’s what I wrote:
The brand promise sets expectations, and expectations are aligned with trust: Predictability begets trust, and trust begets loyalty.
To that statement, I’d like to add consistency; but then consistency really leads to predictability. The bottom line, though, is that trust is about keeping the promises you make. Make a genuine promise, and deliver on it every day. Trust.
And then, back in 2013, I wrote that, without a doubt, trustworthy companies should…
- be transparent with their customers, not just for/with their shareholders
- act with integrity not only in their financial practices but also when it comes to their customers and their employees
- put employees and customers first, ahead of shareholders
- act in the best interest of their customers and employees
- be fair, reliable, and ethical in all practices, not just in financial or management practices
- not take advantage of, or act opportunistically with, customer vulnerabilities
- deliver predictable and consistent customer experiences
You can see that transparency and integrity are huge components in earning your customers’ trust, as is consistency. I would add authenticity – do what you say you’re going to do; be who you say you are – to that, as well.
Here we are, with the worst of the pandemic behind us. My home state of California is easing almost every mandate later this month. So, as we think about the last 16 months or so and the interactions we’ve had with brands, do we believe they need to restore customer confidence and trust? Did those brands have it to begin with? Were they trustworthy, based on the criteria I mention above?
In 2011, I wrote about Trust and the Customer Experience:
Trust is an important part of the customer experience equation. It is such a powerful quality to have and to hold. Think about this. For a unique and remarkable customer experience to occur, each of the following must ring true:
- A company must trust its employees.
- Employees must trust their employers.
- Companies must (empower employees to) trust customers.
- Customers must trust brands/companies.
You can’t restore what you never had. Perhaps it’s time for some brands to not only build that confidence and trust with their employees and customers but also to do the work to maintain it. It’s time to live the brand promise (you have one, right?). It’s also time to add a customer trust core value and, importantly, operationalize it. In other words, it’s time to build a culture of trust.
Consistency is the true foundation of trust. Either keep your promises or do not make them. -Roy T. Bennett