Trust building blocks - building trustworthiness between companies
An update on the individual elements of the trust building blocks can be found here.
So, after writing yesterday about how I came to the topic of trust, today I present the building blocks of trust that I found out about.
After I realized that a trusting relationship between my Content marketing agency and my clients is incredibly important to me personally and commercially, I wanted to find out what all is helpful in exuding trustworthiness between companies. There is a whole range of Content strategiesthat are used in the process. I thought at first, I'll buy a suitable book or watch a nice video and that's it. Unfortunately, there is not so (not yet, I'm working on it). That was sobering at first. There are scientific papers, in English a few essays and books, which touch the topic. Furthermore, there are various books that describe how to reach a level of trust in a personal conversation. But as an entrepreneur or as the head of a company?
So only one thing helped: read more or less everything and take out the appropriate parts and put them together. In the end, I came up with two big components: Characteristics and Behavioural Traits. These in turn consist of a whole series of sub-items. In the case of traits, there are competence, integrity, values, closeness and aura. The relevant behavioural characteristics are results, transparency and consistency.
Competence as the first point seems to be quite simple at first. Of course you have to be competent if someone is to trust you. Or would you let an incompetent doctor operate on you? Of course not. But when I took a closer look, I realised that the word competent is used in very different ways. Many equate it with their expertise. I know, so I am competent. But that is not enough. Knowing how to apply your expertise can also be crucial. I call that process knowledge. And it is also obvious that one has more confidence in an experienced doctor than in someone fresh out of university. The last point I added to competence is passion. From time to time you meet people who, for whatever reason, do a job that they are obviously not passionate about. They do their job by the book. Much more exciting are encounters with people who are passionate about what they do. I could tell you a lot of stories from my time at the agency, which I will certainly catch up on later. I have much more trust in these people because I know that they have studied their field to the last detail.
Integrity is an equally obvious aspect of trustworthiness. Saying what you think and doing what you say opens up the possibility of trust. Does that also play a role when you haven't even met yet? Of course it does. Because the right customer statements, for example, can also provide information about this.
What values make up, justify and drive a company is a very important building block of trust. Is it only about maximising profits or about helping others with a great product or service? My sub-points on this are motives, agenda, will to benefit all and making amends for mistakes. There is a fundamental difference between the values written on websites or in image brochures and what is actually lived. There we are again with integrity. It is no wonder that so many listed companies are no longer trustworthy. Whether it's Deutsche Bank, Volkswagen, Siemens or Wirecard, everyone knows the scandals. Quite obviously, these companies were primarily concerned with maximising profits and not with customers. I fear that this will not change as long as the focus is on quarterly results and manager remuneration depends on the share price at the end of the year. On the other hand, the many family-owned companies in Germany are beneficial, where even as an outsider one quickly understands that decisions are made on the basis of a sound set of values. I trust these companies much more.
Proximity as a trust bonus is as obvious as it is obvious. I trust the baker around the corner more than the one I don't know on the other side of town. He simply cannot afford to deliver bad products in the neighbourhood. Word would soon get around among his customers. And even if I should be dissatisfied, it will be reflected back to him immediately. The same principle applies to all companies. That's why, for example, I always recommend using country versions instead of language versions on websites of international companies. The Brazilian visitor to the website feels much more addressed if there is a version for Brazil than if he has to click on Portuguese. The same for the American and Australian instead of just English.
The aura as the last point of the characteristics is composed of the brand, calmness, clarity, decisiveness, expectation of the future and the collective. There are countless books and webinars on the brand. Of course, it should radiate what the company is all about. But if a company changes its brand every so often, in extreme cases even changing its name, this creates unrest that gnaws away at trust. When it comes to the aura of a company, it is very important that it can be clearly grasped and that I, as an observer, can assume that it will also endure in the future. Companies also belong to collectives. They are members of an association that is associated with something specific. Or are based in a biotech cluster from which several major growth stories have already emerged. This has a positive effect on all the companies in this collective. It is a well-known example that no one has ever been fired for buying computers from IBM. There is an aura. And even if the box doesn't work then, it's certainly the user's fault, but not IBM's. It's quite different if the computer comes from the small do-it-yourself shop. It may be objectively better and of course has a much better price/performance ratio. But woe betide you if something breaks. The same effect is everywhere. A strong aura safeguards the buyer and thus supports trust.
In terms of behavioural characteristics, the first thing to mention is results. The company has already successfully implemented this 3,000 times? All right. Trust is strengthened even more if the company or the entrepreneur feels responsible for the results of their actions. I well remember the website of an IT provider on which the boss could be seen with the quotation: "I'll bade out what I sell you." That's good, it boosts my confidence, because I know that mistakes can happen anywhere. In this case, I definitely don't want to be confronted with excuses.
After all, transparency is a value that strongly increases trust. At our customer Andechser Natur, we have integrated the possibility on the website that, with certain information from the packaging of milk or yoghurt from the supermarket, you can find out online which farms the milk came from. In some cases, this goes all the way back to the name of the cow. I think that's not only great, it also increases my confidence enormously.
And last but not least, consistency is also a value of great importance here. Successful on the market for 20 years or even in the fifth generation - they can do it and I can trust them.
All of these points pay into trustworthiness. I will explain how best to communicate them in my next posts. For me, the compilation of the trust formula was ultimately an aha experience. When I go through these points, I quickly realise where things are still a bit thin. It's worth thinking about this so that my customers can rightly have even more trust in me and my company. By passing on these building blocks of trust, I hope to contribute to making us all more trustworthy in our business dealings with each other.