Why Businesses Need to Measure Trust – Now

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Ayes AmewudahBy Ayes Amewudah
Director, Diagnostics4business “Inspiring Sustainable Trust”

Covid’s impact has reduced trust levels in society to an all-time low, across all types of institutions. As such, organisations must now prioritise actions to rebuild this trust at all levels, if they are to thrive in the future.

This is especially important because in business, maintaining trust provides these businesses with the strongest protection against competitive disruption, an antidote to consumer indifference, and the best path to enable continued growth. Without trust, credibility may be lost – and even reputation can be threatened.

With over 20 years of experience studying trust and its importance and impact on organizations, Edelman believes that it is the ultimate currency in maintaining the positive relationships that all institutions—companies and brands, governments, NGOs and media —build with their stakeholders. Trust defines an organization’s license to operate, lead and succeed. Trust is the foundation that allows an organization to take responsible risks, and, if it makes mistakes, to rebound from them.

Indeed, Edelman’s Trust Barometer has shown that both a company’s trust and reputation are correlated with a consumer’s actual and intent to purchase from them. However, trust is in many ways the more powerful determining factor. 61% of people globally agree that a good corporate reputation may get them to try a product; but unless they come to trust the company behind the product, they will soon stop buying it regardless.

Trust carries more weight because reputation becomes less important if a consumer’s personal experience doesn’t match the reputation of the brand they are interacting with. Even a great reputation cannot sustain a positive consumer-brand relationship when there is a lack of trust. Trust is an individual opinion and belief (Herzig, Lorini, Hübner & Vercouter, 2010), and therefore, the strongest and most entrenched anchor in a person’s decision-making processes (Jung & Seock, 2016). The most powerful action a company can take in building a long-term base of advocates and purchasers is to influence and leverage their belief systems.

The decision by someone to make a purchase is made, in part, by weighing up their perception of risk of buying the particular product. Trust strongly impacts that perception. Both trust and reputation measured together predict purchasing intent and loyalty, but trust alone is a more powerful predictor than reputation alone.