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Trust: the most important brand asset

Dec 01, 2019

How do organisations build trust with their clients? Graham Reid explains why customer trust is so important and what you can do to earn a good business reputation.

If trust is the firm belief in the reliability, truth or ability of someone or something, how many organisations do we truly trust? And how do we empower ourselves and our c-suite colleagues to create a strategic plan through these key pillars of trust?

In an era of continuous disruption, it’s important to ask whether we are equipped to align the benefits of trust to our customers and to our businesses’ success.

Why is trust so important?

In today’s world, customers are overwhelmed with a plethora of services. While the digital age presents a large magnitude of opportunity for businesses, it also leads to the exponential growth of competition, with customers having an unmatched selection 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 want more. Taking note of how certain companies go above and beyond to meet their needs, customers now expect this treatment from all 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

Like any relationship, there are several key principles that help build trust. Living by these principles, and demonstrating genuine authenticity while doing so, will gain customers’ confidence in your brand.

Values

Creating shared values is essential for developing trust and truly connecting with customers. Customers place importance on companies having values, and even more so when a company’s values 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 – it fulfils a more emotional need to connect and, consequently, leads to a more trusted relationship.

Integrity

Integrity is central in the provision of genuine customer experiences. It is a core basis of strong brands; reputation is made on integrity.

What we must remember, however, is that integrity precedes trust. Similarly, trust goes before customer commitment and loyalty. This trust comes in a number of forms, whether it be trust in handling money, trust that problems will be dealt with in an effective manner, and trust that the products and services will deliver as expected. To build this trust, brands need to demonstrate their integrity by showing that they are genuinely putting their customers’ best interests ahead of their own need to make a profit.

Mutuality

Based on the sharing of a feeling, action or relationship between two or more parties, mutuality is a key element to trust. Take steps to ensure that your customers feel valued and important by building a mutually beneficial relationship.

Commitment

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 over time.

Trust is an integral part of earning a good business reputation. Empower your customers, your colleagues and your organisation by building up trusting, mutually beneficial relationships. Put your customer first and demonstrate your integrity, values and commitment to them.  

Graham Reid is the Head of Markets at EY.