Why We're All in the Business of Trust
by Keh-hui Ng, on 26 June, 2020
Whether you work in the Technology, Entertainment, Food, Finance or the Public Sector, as a marketer you've probably figured out that you are in the business of selling trust. Especially in today's world, where the new normal includes work environments with social distancing, public transport with face masks and restaurants with reduced maximum capacities.
During the first two months of the pandemic in the US, a study from economist at the University of Illinois, Harvard University and the University of Chicago predicted that 100,000 businesses had shut down permanently after not being able to operate for two months. It remains unclear just how vulnerable these businesses already were before lockdown, but it is still an eye watering number to consume and, we can assume that this number will only grow until a COVID-19 vaccine is found.
Speaking to renown photographer Simon Burstall who is based in New York at the epicenter of the American coronavirus, he explained to me that he hadn’t worked for months but was about to take on a commission for a celebrity portrait. I immediately asked how he planned to shoot in a post lockdown New York – was he going to use a super long lens or a drone or would he be reducing the number of assistants on the set? His answer was simple. “I’m not going to change much. They expect a certain kind of photo from me, so if I start changing things too much, I won’t be able to deliver what they expect. My biggest challenge will be how to get that human connection between me and the subject during the shoot with everyone wearing a face mask!”
Such a scenario is representative of how many marketer-client relationships are unfolding in our new era. In Simon’s situation, trust comes into play in several ways:
- As Simon mentions, his client expects that he will deliver a certain level of quality when commissioning him. Regardless of the pandemic situation, the client trusts that Simon will find a way to ensure his usual quality of service. Trust is an intangible emotional reaction. If the client were to find Simon acting in a way that was inauthentic or out of line with their previous experiences with him, this may erode trust.
- With COVID being such a big part of the conversation for New Yorkers over the last few months, there is a leap of faith required to assume that the photo set will be a safe and sanitised environment for the client. Simon and his team must maintain social distancing and be healthy when they arrive, as a minimum expectation.
- Finally, there’s the delivery itself. In these unprecedented times, the client trusts that the process will work out and that they will not only have the experience they expect but also the images that they paid for.
It is clear that trust plays huge role in the consumer decision making process today. Avira commissioned a study of over 2,000 Americans through Opinion Matters, asking their opinions on the COVID-19 Track and Trace apps. One of the key stats surprised us greatly: less than 30% of the Americans interviewed said that they would download any of the apps. Worryingly, the apps would need a 60% uptake for the technology to work in a useful way. When probed further, the #1 reason why people would refuse to use the app was because of privacy concerns. Generally speaking, Americans didn’t really trust the Government, Big Tech or even educational institutions with their data – even in such a critical moment.
So much has happened in recent times to destroy the trust that is the foundation not only of good business but also a functioning society. The actions of those that once had our complete trust such as the media, Government and our favourite social media brands have eroded to the point where – even in the middle of a pandemic – people don’t trust the institutions they should to be able to count on to beat the COVID-19 virus.
At Avira, we know that trust must exist for a person to download and use any of our products. Software, particularly security software, can be completely invisible to the user if they are not technically minded. It is so important to us that a customer feels rewarded by sticking with us. To earn and nurture that trust, here are a few things we do:
- We’re transparent about what we do with people’s data. Especially as we operate under a freemium model, there is an expectation that we will collect and monetise data. So, we have made a promise to our user base that we will never sell their data and that we will collect the bare minimum to ensure customers have a great user experience with us
- We inform the customer when we’ve helped them. For example, the Password Management Pro feature in our flagship product will tell a user how hackable a new password is or when one of their email accounts has been compromised. While we do a lot in the background to ensure a smooth experience, we also make sure that users know when we’ve done something good for them.
- We offer users a view of who we are and how we work. We have found that by sharing the thoughts and insights from people within our organisation, our customers get a better feeling for who they are dealing with. Blogs, Social and videos etc are a great way for us to humanise the brand and allow users to get to know us better.
In 2020, as people around the world struggle with their governments, Big Tech, social media and – simply put – each other, we’re all looking for a little trust. While it takes years to build and mere seconds to break, it’s on the shoulders of marketers to put trust at the cornerstone of their marketing strategy. Only then will the brands we serve thrive in our new world.