Why trust is crucial for post-pandemic business success

This article by Wiise CEO Charlie Wood first appeared here in Kochie's Business Builders on 28/09/21.  

In an era of escalating cybercrime, identity fraud, scams and corporate scandals, consumers and businesses are increasingly wary of transacting with companies they don’t trust. In the digital world, without the reassurance of face-to-face contact and transactions, it’s even more critical, writes Charlie Wood, CEO, Wiise

With software playing such an integral role these days in all our lives, not just in the business sphere but in healthcare, warfare, and emergency services, we need to be able to trust that it’s robust and secure. As such, trust represents a significant competitive advantage for businesses. Business consultant Stephen Covey has said that 'Trust always affects two measurable outcomes: speed and cost.'

When trust fails, confidence evaporates, and things take longer and cost more.

Trust when choosing a solution provider

When customers transact with you, they’re entrusting their personal data to you. They need to be confident that it will be handled securely and ethically: that their identity and financial details are safe. It’s critical to use trusted systems, tools and processes. This means working with partners who are trustworthy and contribute to – rather than detract from – the trustworthiness of your own organisation.

A cloud-based, SaaS platform can have a major advantage here as the solution provider handles the security side, including upgrades and legal compliance. For smaller businesses that don’t have the resources to set up high-level SOC-2 cyber security compliance internally, a cloud-based platform is an affordable way to outsource it. It means a business of any size can access the enterprise-grade standard of security that larger corporations implement.

Globally established standards such as ISO compliance are other important criteria.  ISO27001 accreditation shows that a company has an Information Security Management System (ISMS) which has been set up and implemented effectively.  ISO27017 is aimed at making a safer cloud-based environment and reducing the risk of security problems. If a software provider has these it demonstrates that they’ve invested in the right processes and technology to protect data.

Dealing with customers

Forrester observes that customers are becoming more skeptical and “contend with more glitter than gold” when it comes to the promises that organisations make. Brands that claim to be more trustworthy than they are can quickly end up exposed on social media. It’s a well-known fact that bad experiences are more likely to be communicated than good ones. Whereas organisations that have higher levels of trust enjoy higher customer loyalty and retention, and better profits and productivity than their peers.

Open communication with customers is what builds trust and accelerates innovation. Trust needs to be built at every stage of the customer journey: from their arrival on your website to the point where they submit their payment details. Reviews and the responses to them are key for building confidence in both existing and new customers, as well as a critical data source for finding out what customers want, what they’re concerned about, and how their expectations could be better met.

Trust as a core business culture

Building trust into business culture goes hand-in-hand with building transparency. It’s about operating ethically and being open and receptive to feedback. It is the glue that holds relationships together: staff, customers, partners and other stakeholders. There’s research indicating that business partners who trust each other achieve better economic outcomes in negotiations.

Trust is also vital for hiring and retaining talent. According to the latest Edelman Trust Barometer, since the pandemic trust has become an even more important consideration for job seekers, with 77 percent saying that 'regular, truthful communication' is a strong expectation or a deal-breaker. A safe working environment, regular communication and CEOs that embody an organisation’s values all result in an increased likelihood of trust. Edelman notes that 'enabling workers to thrive in the age of automation and AI is a competitive advantage and builds employee trust.'

Trust is about everything you do in your business. It’s your core values, your partners, your product quality, and how you treat customers and staff. In a competitive market, balancing a business’s interests with the interest of its customers and its people is all-important. 

Without trust, there is no business.