With today’s marketplace consisting of fast real-time information delivered by advocates and whistleblowers, brands are constantly being scrutinized for their practices. The public now has the power to gauge whether or not they are acting responsibly. In moments, a brand’s trustworthiness can be called in to question due to the speed of technology in the digital world. Brands are also having a tough time navigating through all this noise in efforts to build a trusting relationship with their stakeholders. There are hundreds of ways to break trust with a consumer, but what can a brand do to help build a trusting relationship?

  1. Address Points of Parities

    It’s a basic business principle: before you can sell to your customers on how you’re different, you have to inform them of how you’ll meet their basic expectations. To battle some of the noise in the marketplace, companies have developed user-friendly CSR and consumer reports to educate stakeholders on their practices, opening up the door to transparency, a key tenant of a trusting relationship. Companies have also begun to advertise certifications and awards that boast forward-thinking business practices such as sustainability. Take a look at your competition; do you see such measures taking place? If the answer is  yes, evaluate the efficacy of matching your competitors on these initiatives. If the answer is no, it looks like you may have found another way to differentiate yourself.

  2. Respect User Privacy

    Another issue arising from the digital age is growing consumer worry about privacy. A disregard for this concern can have huge ramifications for your bottom line. According to an infographic by Marketing Zeus, 91% of U.S. adults worry about their online privacy, and 88% will avoid businesses that do not protect their privacy online. While companies want to get their story and promotions communicated, there is nothing more detrimental to a user’s trust than receiving spam communications. To help consumers feel in control of how they are informed of your brand, allow for clear opt-out opportunities in your messaging, as well as the option for only specific types of news or just overall less frequent emails. In addition, be honest and forthcoming to consumers about how your company utilizes their information. Marketing Zeus suggests publishing a clear and detailed privacy policy that is easily accessible and understandable for consumers. Promoting such a policy allows for discussion about proper use of data and can ultimately help bolster trust between a consumer and a brand.

  3. Allow for Conversation

    Another effect of the digital world is the free and open discussions by consumers on social media, blogs, review sites, et cetera. Consumers can speak freely to the masses about the positives, negatives, successes and failures of virtually any organization. It’s enough to make many companies sick of the thought of what could be published. So much so that companies are actively trying to stifle negative comments. This over-monitoring actually results in distrust by consumers. Most know no company is perfect, so an absence of negative comments or reviews creates confusion and uncertainty for users instead of promoting a quality product or service. For example, from an early start CEO Jeff Bezos required that Amazon display both positive and negative reviews be shown for a product. Such transparency has led to Amazon becoming a trusted site for consumers to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of a given product. Beyond critical reviews showing authenticity, they also show opportunity, where a company can work to develop engagement and trust through an open dialogue.