Building Customer Relationships Through Trust
By Kristie Willmott Group Director of E-Business & Customer Development, Jumeirah | January 27, 2012
What is trust? According to Dictionary.com it is "reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence". For me, it was always about the three R's of modern day; respect, relevance and reward.
So what does this tell us when we attempt to tackle the subject of building customer relationships through trust? Quite simply, that the definition of trust is dependent upon one's frame of reference and personal needs at the time that 'trust' is required. If only it was that simple; new technology has dramatically complicated the equation.
If we consider the definition of trust in the context of purchasing goods and services, we can understand the growing popularity of social networking, review sites and plain old blogs. It seems the old adage 'People buy from people' has always held its ground. After all, we are all customers; we go through life seeking the information we need to make good decisions and wise purchases. We have to trust that the information is valid. All that has actually changed is the medium by which we communicate - conversing across geographical boundaries, anytime of night or day about any particular topic of our choice, has become available via the Internet.
More importantly, the growing transparency of corporate self-interest and an almost macabre obsession with celebrity expose, have driven the subject of trust yet further up the 'must have' consumer shopping list. What can we believe, who can we trust to be who or what they claim to be? Brand messages are rapidly losing their might as the voice of the consumer rises above the modern advertising 'noise'.
While natural 'thought leaders' of the past would float to the top and surface in the form of politicians, professors and CEOs, they are now to be found exercising their opinion on the increasing number of consumer review web sites and blogs, and increasingly their influence is directing the purchasing behavior of our traveling public.
Generation X is the powerhouse behind the rapid adoption by millions of consumers of the web and the concept of online community. Gen X loves stories. They enjoy the company of others and want to have a relationship with web sites. They've seen an information explosion since their early childhood and Google has become their new best friend. Behind it all is an assumption of trust; today's customer needs to trust who they talk to, what they are told and that we, at the other end, care about them and are listening. Authenticity, however it is communicated, is paramount.