Thanks to the Edelman Trust Barometer who has been performing this study for the past 14 years. This year's research includes 33,000 respondents from 27 countries.
The findings are the fundamentals we all need to follow to build trust with customers and prospects:
- Listen to customer needs and feedback and have a closed loop process to address them. I suggest using a three-question Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey to begin the dialogue.
- Treat your employees well. Your employees will only treat your customers as well as you treat your employees.
- Place customers ahead of profits. Do what's right for the customer and everything else will take care of itself. Do what's wrong by the customer and you'll be called out on social media and will fail faster.
- Communicate with integrity and honesty. Be open and transparent. Again, if you're not, you'll be called out on social media and your business will be toast.
- Have ethical business practices. Do unto others . . .
- Take responsible action to address issues or concerns in a timely manner. If you can't resolve the issue by the end of the day, let the customer know the status of the resolution and when they can expect their issue to be resolved.
- Have transparent and open business practices. Perhaps cell phone and cable companies would have higher NPS scores if they had this philosophy?
- Offer high quality products and services. Give people products and service of value. Ask customers if they feel like they're receiving good value from your products or services.
- Be innovative. Offer new products, services or ideas. Anything you can do to make life easier and simpler for customers will be rewarded with more business and mentions in social media.
- Work to protect and improve the environment. It's telling that all of the BP stations in my area of North Carolina are being rebranded.
- Address society's needs in every day business. This goes back to having a vision and mission that's more than about just making money.
- Create programs that positively impact the local community. Give back to the community that supports your business and livelihood.
- Partner with NGO's, government and third parties to address society needs. We're beginning to see more public-private partnerships to address the country's crumbling infrastructure.
- Have highly-regarded and widely-admired top leadership. Your leaders are your brand outside your company. Are they on brand? Are they active on social media and within the industry expressing their point-of- view? Leaders don't hide, they're out front engaging customers as well as critics.
- Rank high on a global list of companies. Decide what you want to be known for and be the best you can be at it.
- Deliver consistent financial returns to investors. Companies that build trust with customers and have high NPS scores tend to perform better financially than those who don't. It's simply good business to do what's right by your customers and prospects.
To me, these 16 ways to build trust boils down to my personal mantra: "Do what you say you will do, when you say you will do it?"
Which of the 16 things is your company doing well?
Where can you improve?
If you don't know, ask your customers.