In 2006, Clive Humby famously declared “data is the new oil,” articulating that data had become the world’s most valuable resource. Lately, though, a new resource has challenged data’s place at the top.
Trust has emerged as a key factor in business success. On the consumer side, trust impacts purchasing behavior and brand loyalty. The results of a 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report showed that when consumers trust a brand, they’re more likely to:
- Try a brand’s new products (53% vs 25%)
- Stay loyal to a brand (62% vs 29%)
- Advocate for a brand (51% vs 24)
- Defend a brand when things go wrong (43% vs 22%)
The pandemic and other events of the past 18 months have made trust even more crucial. Edelman’s 2020 report found that trust is the second most important factor in purchase decisions, after price and affordability.
A lack of trust can also drive customers away. A Morning Consult survey from earlier this year found that nearly one-quarter (23%) of consumers have stopped using a brand that lost their trust, while an additional 28% said they have switched to a competitor. Only 15% have continued to use a brand that has done something to lose their trust.
Employee trust is also important. People who work at high-trust companies report less stress, more energy at work, higher productivity, fewer sick days, more engagement, more life satisfaction, and less burnout than people who work at low-trust companies.
The tricky thing about trust is that it means different things to different people. PwC’s latest Trust in US Business Survey found that business leaders, customers, and employees all have their own priorities when it comes to trust — sometimes they overlap, sometimes they don’t.
For companies to effectively earn and retain trust among their customers and employees, everyone needs to be on the same page. Let’s take a closer look at PwC’s results.
What defines trust in business?
Many elements define trust in business, and the good news is that business leaders, consumers, and employees all agree on the four most important:
- Protecting data and cybersecurity
- Treating employees well
- Ethical business practices
- Admitting to mistakes
After those four, however, the groups diverge. PwC notes that “business leaders tend to take a broader view of trust,” with things like social impact. Meanwhile, employees are interested in leadership accountability, and consumers want companies to go beyond their commitments.
What builds trust?
While attitudes toward trust were largely aligned among the three groups, PwC found disconnects when it comes to trust-building actions.
What consumers and employees say builds trust
- Clear communications
- Admitting to mistakes
- Delivering a consistent customer experience
- Appropriate employee compensation
What business leaders believe builds trust
- Clear communications
- Protecting customer and employee data
- Delivering on financial commitments
- Having a strong ethics and compliance policy and/or functions
There’s an even bigger disconnect between what business leaders say is important and the actions they take. For example, while 72% of business leaders said clear communications are important, only 64% have implemented policies to address this issue.
What are the obstacles to trust?
Diverse stakeholder perspectives are the biggest obstacle to building trust, cited by 43% of business leader respondents. Currently, companies are focused on prioritizing building trust with employees (75%), followed by customers (60%), and then investors (39%).
The survey results also reveal a potential answer to this challenge — the CEO and CFO were identified as the two leaders most responsible and accountable for trust. PwC suggests that “if CEOs and CFOs take the lead in aligning senior leadership around their customers’ and employees’ top priorities, they can help focus the entire organization on the most important trust initiatives.”
Other obstacles cited by business leaders include the current company culture (41%), the inability to change the supply chain (34%), an unsupportive leadership team or board (28%), and negative long-term reputational issues (27%).
What can companies do?
PwC offers four pieces of advice for companies to build trust going forward:
- Be deliberate about your trust strategy. Only half of companies have actually defined what trust means. This is a core first step toward developing and implementing a trust strategy.
- Consider all your stakeholders — and their conflicts. PwC recommends taking a “multi-stakeholder approach,” noting that this “creates a positive feedback loop that can be a true force multiplier.”
- Deliver on actions. “Trust is built with consistency and reliability,” the company says. Commit to specific actions and then deliver on them.
- Rethink technology. As the food industry has seen via several high-profile data breaches, “your technology could quickly become a liability.” PwC notes that “responsible, ethical technology and data use can help spread trust further.”
This is just a snapshot of PwC’s report. For more insights, explore the complete findings.
Source by foodindustryexecutive.com