A couple of weeks ago I attended another talk. This time it was by a Dr Olga Kalinowska-Beszczynska, a lecturer in entrepreneurship at The University of Exeter called “Trust me, I’m entrepreneur!”. The main topic discussed was trust: from how it’s subjective and differently perceived depending on a context, to many different approaches when defining or measuring trust as well as how one can’t compare it across different sectors as there isn’t a universal unit of analysis for trust (and there’s unlikely to be one because it’s, as I’ve mentioned earlier, subjective).
Just pause for a moment and think about trust – what is it? Where is it and where does it come from? It might sound like a silly question, however, the point I’m trying to make is that trust is intangible and elusive; arguably that’s why I too often don’t think about it and take it for granted. And even though trust is a common topic in the circles of philosophers, psychologists and sociologists (Kalinowska-Beszczynska, 2016); what I find fascinating is that it’s a subject of interest amongst economists, managerial and organisational scientists, too. Possibly pausing for a moment and contemplating trust ought to be one of the things an entrepreneur must bear in mind when creating or improving upon a product, service or experience (PSE). According to Welter trust is key when opening a new business or expanding an existing one (2012). Marjorie Adams from Forbes.com agrees that: “With trust, you’ll have customers (or clients) for life. Without trust, you may as well pack up and go home” (2014). I have no intention of packing up and going home, thus must find ways to build it.
When you google how to create/maintain trust you’ll find a number of advice or opinions on it. It can be quite overwhelming I’m, therefore, going to single out four main ways to do it:
- Great customer service. Nobody is going to have an interest in your PSE if you have no interest in them [your customers]. Be nice, empathetic and most importantly – LISTEN.
- Great PSE. I’m not talking about coming up with an idea for the next Facebook. I’m talking about you, as a founder breathing your PSE. Mel Ewell says: “Be fired with enthusiasm or enthusiasm will fire you”. If you don’t find it great nobody will.
- Consistency. Needless to say, ensuring consistent standards for your PSE. Moreover, aiming for the same standards throughout the whole enterprise including different departments and teams. This will play a major part in building reputation and will decrease uncertainty in regards to PSE. Basically it’s A to Z consistency.
- TRANSPERANCY. This one’s my favourite. It’s so simple yet so many get it wrong. Think Volkswagen scandal when “the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) found that many VW cars being sold in America had a “defeat device” – or software – in diesel engines that could detect when they were being tested, changing the performance accordingly to improve results.”(Hotten, 2015). Do you know what the boss for VW America said? “We’ve totally screwed up” (Michael Horn, 2015). The company diminished trust of both their customers and the public (Winterkorn, 2015) and as a result reported a pre-tax loss of €2.52bn for the first time in 15 years (Volkswagen Interim Report Q3, 2015). Consumers are smart. Simples.
To sum up with I’d like to use modified motivational British poster.