Why trust is essential for tech companies
In the days before the web when people dealt with people, personal relationships mattered as much – if not more – than the businesses they represented. Over the past few years however, we have seen the emergence of new kinds of business, driven either in part or in whole by technology.
This has impacted how individuals and businesses engage. Customers now subscribe to a new set of maxims by which to distinguish trustworthiness and to assign loyalty. Inability to protect data (as in the case of Sony and Talk Talk) for example, is one transgression that customers are not willing to overlook.
In the platform economy – as some are calling today’s environment populated by Uber and Airbnb – trust is more integral than ever before. The doctrine of, “say what you do, and do as you say”, has never been more critical when it comes to building strong, reliable customer relationships.
And meanwhile, older businesses have suffered from moving from a people-centric to a web-centric model. Not least the banks, who are still trying to undo the damage done by corralling their business banking staff into distant call centres, to name one instance.
Relationships have evolved. We have moved through a period where many underestimated their value, and are heading into an era when they are once again seen as a differentiator. While banks have it all to lose, for startups such as ourselves, trust is table stakes.
For a start this means providing a service which does what it says on the tin. If there’s one sure way to destroy trust, it’s to mislead customers, whether intentionally or not. We couldn’t offer a service which said “flat fee, no hidden costs” if we then hid costs – at least not if we wanted our customers to remain loyal to us.
Technology now occupies a central role for just about every business, and consumers are accustomed to interacting with a screen rather than another person. Far from eroding the need for trust, these factors make trust even more sacrosanct. It’s easier than ever to switch between faceless companies when one stops meeting your requirements, without souring a long-standing relationship. That’s why it is crucial for tech companies to establish trust, and more importantly, keep it.