Jan Gordon
August 25, 2015

Here’s The Quickest Way to Build Trust and Loyalty

By Bryan Kramer

When it comes to calculating brand value, trust is often a dynamic that is considered mostly an afterthought. Trust is an intangible sum difficult to quantify in business balance sheets. And yet, it’s quite possibly one of the most important things to a company’s overall net worth.

Why, you ask? Because trust is one of the main driving factors behind customer commitment and loyalty. In fact, a recent study conducted by bestselling authors David Maister, Charles Green and Robert Galford revealed that there is a direct correlation between a brand’s perceived credibility and increased client retention.

So how do some of the world’s greatest brands use trust marketing as an essential part of their core message? Today, we’re going to examine what best makes up this important advertising strategy as well as highlight two companies that offer best practices in this area.

Breaking Down Trust

Although trustworthiness can be difficult to define, there is a simple scientific equation that can be applied to the concept as it exists in business relationships. In their book, The Trusted Advisor, Maister, Galford and Green broke the idea down brilliantly as follows:

Trust = Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy + Self Orientation

In this scenario, credibility refers to the messages (written and verbal) conveyed by the brand. Reliability is the consistency of actions performed by representatives of the company. Intimacy can be defined as the honesty behind the message (i.e., can I trust that they live by the values they express.) as well as how well you understand your client’s choices. While self-orientation directly follows how genuine a brand’s focus on meeting the customer’s needs over that of the business.

These four factors can make a significant contribution to a customer’s overall loyalty. In fact, over 81% of respondents in a Business Insider study cited trust as the number one reason they remain with a brand. Which translated into a 40% increase in higher brand value when consumers perceived them as an organization that cares about their clients.

As in any relationship, two-way communication is an essential part of building trust. Therefore, it’s important for companies to embrace  transparency as its core component of social marketing.

According to a Webbed Feet survey of Millennials, an astounding 92% of respondents stated they trusted what is classified as ‘earned media’ such as social media, word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends/family. When you factor in other age groups, the number only slightly drop to 84% (Nielsen, 2013).

In both studies, brands that used social media to relay messages of customer concern, transparency and ethical treatment of topical issues rated the highest among clients.

So it’s definitely important to take these into account when crafting your social media strategy. Are you simply using social media to promote your latest product? Or do you look to the platform to react to customer feedback? Companies looking to gain a competitive foothold among clients must be willing to do both. 

One brand that has done so successfully is Zappos. The well-known online shoe store has received industry kudos from just about everyone for their treatment of their customers. From installing widgets on their website to encourage interaction between shoppers to their Fan of the Week highlighted on their Facebook page-Zappos has successfully used social media to create stark raving fans.

Even more impressive is their ability to use social media to diffuse what could be a branding nightmare. As in the case of when Kanye West disparaged the company in 2013 due to what he saw as a slight to his marketing strategy of his upcoming shoe collection.

imgresInstead of engaging West in a Twitter battle, Zappo’s CEO Tony Hsieh playfully responded by tweeting a picture of toilet and plunger priced at $10,000 to his over three million followers. In the accompanying link, Hsieh used the opportunity to make light of the comment while underlying his company’s continued commitment to providing customers with services they want. The move was celebrated as being a brilliant way to address negative headline without creating further controversy.

Another business that has successfully leveraged social media to create trust is Freshdesk. Since their founding in 2010, the company has successfully grown their customer support platform by focusing on customer satisfaction.

Freshdesk has led the way over the past few years in providing detailed branding information through their active social media and blog. Freshdesk was met with controversy recently when cloud analyst and blogger Ben Kepes accused them imgresof stealing their ideals from a competitor. Within hours of his original tweet, the CEO of Zendesk accused them of being “a freaking rip-off.”

Looking to address the situation, Freshdesk’s social media team created a website to make the situation transparent. They engaged individuals openly who were questioning the value of their business. By acting swiftly, they were able to maintain trust with current customers while leaving open the opportunity to change the minds of their most ardent critics. They showed class and transparency. Well done!

Key Takeaway:

Trust marketing is a way to create loyalty through a combination of credibility, reliability, intimacy and self-orientation. As there is a direct correlation between trustworthiness and client retention-the most successful companies are ones that utilize social media marketing to build transparency while meeting client concerns.


bryan_kramerOriginally published on bryankramer.com, entitled “The Quickest Way to Build Trust and Loyalty” and re-published here with permission

Bryan is the CEO of PureMatter, an award winning global digital agency based in Silicon Valley, a social strategist, TED speaker and author of the acclaimed book: Human to Human #H2H and most recently, the top new release on Amazon in its niche, Shareology: How Sharing is Powering the Human Economy

Additional (Lead) image: Copyright: ‘http://www.123rf.com/profile_rawpixel‘ / 123RF Stock Photo

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