Strategy, Xero

Trust in the Digital Age

With the rise of digital technologies, trust is shifting from institutions to individuals – so how do you build that trust in a digital age?

Rachel Botsman, a globally renowned theorist on collaborative consumption explored ideas on how trust is built during her stellar presentation at Xerocon South 2016.  Firstly, stating that trust has transitioned from ‘local’ – where people lived in a village and knew everyone, to institutional – where we place trust in brands, regulations etc. to the individual – where we trust people to stay in our homes (Airbnb), drive us around town (Uber) or even on 400km trips (Bla Bla Car).

To start with, what is trust?  Rachel describes trust as ‘the bridge between the known and the unknown’.  If you can reduce the unknown, then trust increases.  This is what many platform (2 sided) applications do, the more relevant information that is shared (for example on profile pages) the more the unknown is reduced, and the greater likelihood that we will trust the individual. 

When people first look at new businesses (especially in the collaborative consumption space) they first trust the ideas, then the platform and finally the other user.  Rachel refers to this as the ‘Trust Stack’.  The more that you can make the unknown familiar the further you will reduce the gap and therefore trust.  Many platforms also customize the customer experience based on their trust state.  For example, if a user clicks on the terms and conditions, they are typically in a lower trust state than a user that goes straight in searching for product – the experience is customized accordingly with messaging that aims to increase trust.

Think of your business, what trust state are your customers in?  Do you customize the user experience based on their trust state?  How can you determine their trust state?  Are there identifying factors such as the questions they ask or what pages they visit on your website? 

Trust is built through people viewing you and your business as competent, reliable and honest with the most common measure of trust being reputation. How are you building your reputation and displaying these attributes to your existing and potential customers?

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