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Where Went the Trust?

I was on the Pew Research website recently and marveled at the range of studies the organization publishes. One of their core subjects: trust.

We live in a world that trusts institutions like businesses less; trusts differently than past generations; and seeks reliable information in new ways. Interestingly, people are skeptical about the internet as a place for trustworthy information…even as they still see it as among the first places to go for information.

What does this mean for the growing business?

One thing to ensure is a credible digital footprint, and not just the obvious like a useful website or thoughtfully-presented social media presence. There is also a premium on reviews on places like Google, Facebook or LinkedIn. Businesses benefit from having more positive reviews online—and preparing to respond to the inevitable negative ones.

I like to think about this through the lens of real people. How do events unfold for them? Perhaps a neighbor says “you really ought to call so and so” over a fence. Or a business associate says the same thing over lunch. Then the potential customer looks to validate that recommendation.

It’s not that they don’t trust the person giving the referral; they just want to learn more about the company that, potentially, can address their issue. And that probably means going to a website or social media or Google. Or all of the above.

The question is whether the journey that began over a fence or at lunch ends with contact from a prospect inclined to trust the person on the other end of the phone or computer. It’s all about closing the trust gap and even speeding up the sales cycle.