The trust opportunity
I’m participating in KPMG’s business resilience week this week. In preparation, KPMG have launched some interesting thought leadership, in particular a global CEO survey.
Reading the report, I was struck by CEO of TalkTalk Tristia Harrison’s comments. “The lack of trust in the status quo is extraordinary…for businesses that can get it right though, there is a huge opportunity….You’ve got to connect, have a conversation, show integrity.” We know that trust has been in decline for years now - not least at TalkTalk, which gives her words extra piquancy - but too few businesses are clear on what it takes to mitigate this decline. In my view, Tristia is spot on, and it’s the sequence here that is so important.
Firstly you have to connect. That does not means communicating with a ‘look at my product’ campaign. That’s not connecting!! B2B marketers in particular miss this point. Connection is a very human state – it requires empathy, close focus on personalising the basis on which you look to start a connection, authenticity, a willingness to be vulnerable and more. And, crucially, it is a necessary precursor for any further commercial discussion to take place.
Secondly, you have to try to have a conversation….as in genuine, two way communication. It means asking questions, listening, responding, and being prepared to acknowledge you don’t have all the answers. This is particularly true with considered purchases, or where a relationship is part of the offer. Too much marketing that purports to start a conversation, is really designed to stimulate social media activity, and the brand in question rarely shows it is listening. As more sectors move to an “as a service” model, this ability to have genuine conversations will be crucial.
Finally, showing integrity. This is a massive topic that embraces sustainability, values, purpose, ethics, diversity and more. But in essence, what the customer wants to know is, when the chips are down, will the business make the right decision, even if it’s not always the most profitable one. This is where a price premium and loyalty can be built. For me, I judge brands on how the cope with problems. Amazon has replaced a set of headphones for me with next-to-no hassle, demonstrating a huge amount of trust in me, and reinforcing my loyalty along the way. If Dan Ariely is to be believed, that trust will be routinely abused (not by me, of course!) but I suspect Amazon see this downside as a price worth paying in exchange for the loyalty upside. Note, the market will judge your integrity by what you do, much more so than what you say. So don’t make the mistake of trying to communicate your way to having more integrity without the requisite action. You’ll be busted.
Connection, at a human level.
Conversations, that demonstrate you are really listening
Integrity, manifested in what you do, especially when there’s a tough decision to make.
I’ll be interested in hearing how much of the content circulates around these themes this week.