Building consumer trust by Leading Hand

I recently watched an insightful TED Talk on building consumer trust and how it is increasingly being built, managed, lost and repaired. According to its author, trust expert Rachel Botsman, we have stopped trusting institutions and started trusting strangers.

Moving Away from Institutional Trust to Distributed Trust

During the 20th century we largely put our trust in companies and institutions. We predominantly trusted what they told us about themselves but this is no longer the case. A visitor to a company site now has a healthy scepticism about the claims a company is making about its skills, its service and its reputation. Site visitors regularly investigate other connected platforms to verify and corroborate which is one of the reasons it helps to have a social media presence. Consumers want to see and read what other consumers think about a particular organisation. They feel safer and are more likely to try your business if they can see a profile, read through customer reviews, validate a rating or better yet, a long list of independent consumer ratings.

The traditional systems used by companies and institutions (such as governments) to build trust, argues Rachel Botsman, are now perceived as opaque, closed, centralised, licensed and very much top-down. The 21st Century is going to be about being more transparent, inclusive, decentralised, accountable and bottom-up (i.e. starting with us, the consumer). Uber and Airbnb are just two high-profile case studies that demonstrate this profound transition. We now trust strangers to stay in our homes and to give us rides because the system facilitated a leap of trust.

Technology is Facilitating A Trust Leap

Technology is, ‘providing new mechanisms to build trust’ and increasingly consumers are relying on these platforms to make purchasing decisions.

Don’t shy away from adapting to this new need. In a small way, sharing consumer reviews on your site from third-party platforms is a practical step. They might not all be good which can feel counter intuitive at times but consumers are savvy, they will note the quantity of reviews, the variety of issues and overall ratings and will make a call on balance.

Being aware of reviews and indeed owning them is a strategic decision, one that puts your customers first in a very practical way.

Consumers value transparency. They will forgive mistakes if they can see they are handled and remedied well and they will trust and patronise your business more readily if they can see what consumers think about you.

Embrace Openness


Let us help you take the first step to design a system for building consumer trust in your business, one that ultimately generates more sales.

You can watch Rachel Batsman’s TED Talk here.