In today’s world, everything is visible in a digital way. An all-tech, always-on culture and lifestyle means that privacy is perishing quickly. That means that being earnest and building and maintaining a culture of trust is of the utmost importance in today’s world.

A company can build and maintain trust from two angles in order to ensure quality, the perception of quality, and ultimately business success. The first way is to focus on the customer: building trust by producing quality products and making yourself known in your customer’s life. Equally important, however, is building a culture of trust within your company, between management and employees alike.

Customer Trust

What customers expect nowadays is a company that produces the same quality products they claim they do, and then when there is inevitably a problem, the company rectifies the situation adequately. In doing so, the customer and organization are building a certain trust with one another, resting on the assumption that the customer will always be taken care of.

This trust in quality is so important that a lack of it can totally destroy a company or personal brand. For example, if we look at self-driving cars for example, we can see that public trust is not very high. Google’s first self-driving car accident happened in February of 2016, and the first self-driving fatality occurred in March of 2018 when an Uber self-driving vehicle struck and killed a woman. Regardless of who is at fault, or how many lives these vehicles save overall, if people don’t trust that they won’t be accidentally killed by self-driving cars, they’ll never take off.

That example shows that beyond creating a quality product, a company’s outward-facing image must be trusted. Always be present on social media, and actively listen to your followers. Listening to customers will not only make a company more familiar and trustworthy, it’s also key when it comes to determining what the customer truly wants in a quality product.

That said, respond and give feedback to those who follow you. Quick response times are essential here. Good damage control can not only save the company’s public image, it can actually improve upon that image by showing that consumers can trust your organization to effectively handle problems. On top of that, analyzing customer complaints can provide ideas for further product development and can help make products more satisfying for the consumer—and more profitable for the company.

Many companies understand that they must appear to actively listen to customers . . . however, many fail to realize that actually listening and responding is more important. Don’t be inattentive; put a little effort in, and see how much it means to your people.

Employee Trust

Employee trust is just as important as a culture of consumer trust. This has never been more true than now, as worker autonomy and flexibility is on the rise. Rutgers mentions that one of the top workplace trends people should know about is remote work, stating that “telecommuting will approach or even reach 50 percent by 2020. Many employees work exclusively on a remote basis, while others enjoy anywhere between one to three days per week away from the office, where they still manage to complete workplace roles to their employers’ satisfaction.”

This takes a ton of trust between employee and organization. There are, obviously, tools to monitor whether or not employees are completing their tasks and working efficiently, but trust is eroded when managers are hawkishly reviewing these numbers and figures. In the end, it’s all about trusting your employees to do their jobs—and in return, they’ll trust that you’re taking care of their interests and treating them as they want to be treated. This includes and can be as complex as giving your employees benefits such as 401k retirement plans, but can also be as simple as making sure that your work facilities are properly maintained.

Trusting your employees to make decisions and work well without being micromanaged will also encourage creativity and problem solving. The last thing you want is an employee who lacks confidence and requires oversight for every task, draining company resources. Instead, encouraging confident, problem-solving behavior will help that employee, and your entire company, be more productive.

The thing to remember about trust is that trust is earned, not given. Acting suspicious and untrusting of employees, being closed to criticism, and not communicating openly will only make a company seem less trustworthy and less appealing to a customer.

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Andy Heikkila is a business owner, writer, and musician hailing from the lush Pacific NW. He enjoys running, drinking, and hanging out with his friends when he’s not working. Feel free to drop him a message on Twitter @AndyO_TheHammer.

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