Forrester says consumers are losing trust in government following scandals, and misinformation in many traditional institutions. Consumers are redirecting their trust to other entities creating new opportunities to boost trust across their stakeholder ecosystem.
According to Forrester, more consumers across the US, UK, France, and India are willing to trust businesses over their national and local governments, and the media. At the same time, consumers are giving brands permission to play a bigger role in their well-being: 47% of surveyed Americans and 48% of Britons rely on brands for overall advice on how to stay healthy. To manage stress and anxiety, 32% of US and 33% of UK respondents are turning to trusted brand.
If consumers observe that a company has contradicted its values, 18% of US, 26% of French, and 23% of Singaporean consumers say they would stop doing business with that company permanently.
With consumers holding the organizations they do business with and work for to new standards of integrity, dependability, and social responsibility, business leaders must detect and understand this new pattern of trust.
However, this trust transformation is occurring in the blind spots of the C-suite. In its latest research, Forrester outlines seven key levers that make the concept of trust concrete and provides actionable recommendations to help executives build trust for everyone they serve — customers, employees, and partners. The impact of each trust lever varies depending on the business.
Customers, employees, and partners will have their own trust perspective. Different stakeholders have different interactions with a company and as such will have different perspectives on what a firm needs to do to earn their trust. For example, in the US, the levers of empathy, accountability, and dependability are the most important to driving trust with employees.
Regional differences are a key factor. For a service-oriented company such as an airline, hotel, or bank, the most important lever in driving trust for consumers is consistency in the US, empathy in France, and dependability in India, Singapore, and the UK.
Each audience needs trust levers that are relevant and contextual. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports and security certifications help make a partner feel more comfortable doing business with an organization but do not increase consumers’ trust.
To make the most positive impact, trust should manifest itself in the way and in the measures most relevant for each audience.
Trust shapes business ecosystems with a unique set of leading levers. The brands that an organization affiliates with can waste or increase their trust capital.
Organizations must leverage the levers of trust to optimize how partners trust them. The type of products or services they exchange and the overall risk related to the relationship are important variables.
Sharyn Leaver, senior vice president of research at Forrester, says trust is not an abstract concept — there are known levers that can build and strengthen trust with stakeholders.
She opined that companies that earn trust among customers, employees, and partners drive revenue-generating loyalty behaviours like retention and advocacy.
“Highly trusted firms also have greater growth potential, as their customers are more likely to experiment with new offerings, their employees are more likely to be productive, and their partners are more likely to facilitate faster routes to market,” she concluded.