3 ways businesses can build trust

Tim Miller

Managing Director - PLMR Genesis

The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, the leading global survey of trust in society, doesn’t make for positive reading. The report reveals mistrust and misinformation is rampant.

Just 57% of us believe the government is focussed on doing the right thing. Confidence in news sources from social media to traditional media has plummeted.

Amid all this, businesses have risen to the top of the barometer as a shimmering light for competence and ethics. But there is still a long way to go and the dial could quickly shift back the other way as the only thing certain in 2021 is uncertainty.

So, while the wind is blowing in the right direction, here are three things you can do to further build trust in your organisation in an age of mistrust and misinformation.

Be transparent

More than ever before, consumers are taking a deeper dive into the brands they engage with. Is this firm ethical? What are their green credentials? Are they making a positive impact in society? How do they treat their staff?

And in today’s digital landscape of social media, Google Reviews, Trustpilot and Glassdoor it’s easier than even to find the answers to these questions.

If there’s a conflict between your brand’s values and your actions consumers will soon see through them and the impact can be hard to recover from. KitKat infamously learnt the hard way when their ethics were brought into question over the sourcing of palm oil – a reputational nightmare they are still struggling with today.

Be open, honest and transparent. Shout about all the great things you do but at the same time don’t shy away from the difficult questions. If you do make mistakes, it’s important to be upfront, own them and apologise.

Listen and engage

Do you have tools in place to listen to your customers? From focus groups, surveys to reviews there are plenty of opportunities to hear what people think about your brand.

The biggest is of course social media. It’s temping to shy away from Facebook and Twitter an avoid those challenging encounters but remember, these conversations are taking place where you are there or not. If you engage with your followers and listen to their concerns you can build trust and reap the benefits.

Radio silence is also not a viable option. We’ve all seen how quickly rumours can spread on social media and damage your trust and reputation if unchecked in a vacuum of speculation.

Twitter, ironically, experienced this on its own social network when rumours about a non-chronological timeline emerged which led to #RIPTwitter trending.

Have your antennas (social media monitoring tools) active and be ready to respond quickly with clear and concise messaging when issues arise.

Trust starts from within

Over the past year, organisations have placed trust in their teams to work from home and manage their time. This has widely been seen as overwhelming positive, driving productivity and confidence amongst employees. See our thoughts on this in a previous blog post.

Your team are the ones who represent your brand on the front line. If they are positively engaged with you and on board with your story and values, this is reflected externally when they speak with your customers.

On the flip side, disgruntled employees can easily share their feelings publicly and internal issues can quickly spill out into the open. This is what Apple found when an email to employees forcing them to return to the office hit all the headlines for the wrong reasons.

The barrier between employees and customers is shrinking and you can’t have a trusted relationship with one without the other.

If you need help telling your story or managing your reputation, get in touch with us today.

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