8 min read
The opinions of the employees of You are personal.
“Trust is like blood pressure. It is silent, vital to health and can be fatal if misused.” – Frank Sonnenberg, author of Follow Your Conscience.
There’s a lot that goes into building a business – a strong vision, a talented team, and a product that resonates with consumers and investors.
Each is critical to the success of a company. But the glue that holds it all together is trust. In the 2019 Edelman Confidence Barometer Special Report, respondents identified brand trust as one of the most important factors to consider before buying – 81% of respondents said they should “be able to trust” the brand will do the right thing. “
We’ve seen time and time again what happens when a company betrays public trust like Facebook, Volkswagen, Uber, and Equifax. Once trust is undermined, even the most powerful giants will find it difficult to get back on their feet, and many never do.
Aside from the risk of irreparably damaging your reputation, the financial implications are huge. In 2018 The economist studied eight of the biggest business scandals of recent times and found that midsize businesses were valued 30% less than they would otherwise have been.
Companies that have broken trust have taught us that while it takes time to build trust, it can be lost instantly. This is how you make sure that you never disappoint your stakeholders.
Like everyone else, customers want to be informed. While overcommunication can occur, it is always better to keep your customers informed than to be opaque. Let them know your goals and processes, and if something goes wrong, acknowledge the mistake. If you are caught trying to hide details, the goodwill you have set out can be compromised.
As the startup’s founder, Rebekah Campbell, said in an interview, telling little lies is “the main reason entrepreneurs fail”.
“Not because you’re a bad person,” explained Campbell. “But because the act of lying tears you out of the present and prevents you from facing what is really going on in your world. Every time you report a metric, report less costs, be less honest with a customer or a member of your team, you create a false reality and start living in it. “
In my company JotForm we have started a medium-sized company channel. I blog there myself, but I also encourage all employees to be open about their work. This creates a window into what goes on behind the scenes. This window creates trust for existing customers. Build excitement on our products for new customers.
Insufficient promise (then lore)
The numerous corporate scandals that have ravaged the news cycle over the past few years have hurt consumer confidence. If a customer feels misled or manipulated these days, they are unlikely to return their business to the brand in charge.
That said, it’s important not just to meet expectations, but to exceed them. s are often too engaged because they want their stakeholders to like them. But the quickest way to lose respect is by not keeping promises.
For example, if a product takes a week to deliver, it will take two. If something takes 10 years, let’s say it will take eight years. If you offer more than expected, be it in terms of service, time, convenience, or all three, it will add value to your brand and keep your customers loyal.
As the poet George Macdonald said, “Trust is a greater compliment than being loved.” This is especially true for companies where trust means getting customers who will stay with you for the long term.
Being consistent is one of the best ways to build trust. The more consistent you are with your brand, customer service, and offerings, the more your customer base (and reputation) will grow.
As CEO of JotForm, I spend much of my day keeping a clear and compelling presentation of the company that extends to both my employees and my customers. With a defined focus, your team can perform excellently while building a market niche.
As BrandExtract’s Bo Bothe wrote in a blog post, there are three main building blocks of a consistent brand:
- Messages: This may seem obvious, but your brand message should align with your company values. If what you’re offering feels bogus, or worse, or undeliverable, customers will feel cheated.
- Design: Your brand images are an easy way to generate customer recognition and thus trust. Using the same themes in your logo, social media and printed materials gives your message a visible cohesion.
- Delivery: the How you communicate with your audience is an important part of consistency. Maybe you want a vibrant and engaging Twitter account, or maybe weekly blog posts are more your style. You can customize your communications over time as you build a customer base and learn more about your preferences.
When you make changes, don’t assume you know what customers want. Listen to the comments. Test product, process, and system updates in a small group, then measure user responses and make the necessary adjustments. This will help avoid shaking up your customers with unexpected changes and potentially undermining their trust.
The Harvard Business Review indicates that there are two types of competition. First, there is technical competence, which refers to the day-to-day aspects of designing, manufacturing, and selling a product or service.
Then there is people skills where you know your business environment and are able to adapt accordingly and respond to changes.
In the short term, technical competence is king. But social competition is necessary for every company that wants to be successful in the long term.
A good example is Uber: the rideshare company has had many missteps and scandals but continues to attract users because it meets a need and does it well.
Over time, many Uber users became ambivalent about their people skills. As HBR states, “We don’t trust Uber to treat its employees or customers well or to act fairly. In other words, we don’t trust Uber’s motives, means, or effects. ”
As a result, the company stalled, missing its forecast users by three million in 2017, and eventually ceding market share to Lyft. The IPO remained below average after drivers went on strike and stock prices fell 11%.
Uber’s confusion is a valuable lesson for the rest of us: trust is not a short-term affair. You have to prove every day that your values align with your message.