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Just Trust Me

Recent headlines revealed that Lance Armstrong has been stripped of seven Tour de France titles and given a lifetime ban from Olympic sports as he dropped appeal of doping charges.

We expect athletes to excel based on their own efforts and obviously he has been extremely successful in his career up to this point.  The unfortunate situation is that many people look to him as a role model.  As someone they could trust. Whatever the situation really is, I have to believe he has lost some credibility and trust among his fans.

There seem to be more situations where integrity and trust are in question, such as:

  • The recent badminton scandal where players were kicked out of the London Olympics for deliberately trying to lose matches.
  • Tiger Wood’s personal choices which led to a fall from grace as he failed to live up to the image he established.

To be fair, it’s not just athletes…  Do you remember when Jet Blue passengers were kept on airplanes sitting on the tarmac for more than 8 hours during a snowstorm?  Certainly they lost some ground with their passengers who trusted the airline to look out for them.  In response, they developed a specific customer strategy to rebuild trust.  They issued a formal apology and enacted the JetBlue Airways Customer Bill of Rights to solidify relationships with existing customers, acquire new ones, enhance customer confidence and improve overall loyalty to the brand. 

Many Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs gauge overall images and impressions of the organization, with the concept of trust included in some instances. 

So what exactly is trust?  Per Wikipedia, one definition believes that the person or organization that is trusted will do what is expected.  Although there is little consensus as to appropriate dimensions of trust, one thing that has been commonly agreed on is that trust is a multi-dimensional construct and cannot be accurately described by a single construct (Seppanen, Blomqvist, & Sundqvist (2007). Some dimensions of trust that are fairly commonly agreed upon are reliability (e.g. will deliver on promises) and credibility (e.g. has the knowledge and ability to perform as expected).  Note the literature provides a much more comprehensive definition of each dimension than is presented here.

Recently a Walker Global Network partner identified the drivers of trust for a client – to really understand what it means for that company.  Key elements included caring about customers, being a respected brand, delivering on promises, being ethical, offering expert advice, and being a preferred provider factored into the trust equation. 

What does trust mean for your organization?  Does it just happen? Probably not.  You need to earn your customer’s trust.

Kitty Radcliff
Vice President, Consulting Services

About the Author

Kitty Radcliff

Kitty Radcliff

As a vice president of consulting service, Radcliff serves as the senior client service contact for assigned customer feedback engagements, with an emphasis on industry knowledge, research expertise and creation of valuable insights. Her current portfolio of client relationships includes both international and domestic companies in the high-tech, manufacturing, and financial sectors. Kitty’s largest accounts involve global customer satisfaction/loyalty measurement programs with survey activity occurring via the web in several dozen countries around the globe.

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