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What is trust and why does it matter ?

Trust is at an all-time low and has been steadily declining across all core institutions. And currently, there is no meaningful and actionable measure of how trust impacts human behavior. Furthermore, our research shows that despite the importance of trust, it is repeatedly overestimated. Leaders do not have an accurate read on trust when it comes to their workforce and customer force.

To address this trust crisis, we set out to create a measure of trust that was simple, meaningful, and actionable. We conducted in-depth interviews and focus groups with over 90 trust experts, business leaders, workers, and customers. We collected over 400,000 survey responses with customers and workers across nearly 500 brands. We worked with organizations directly to help them on their journeys to build trust. And we studied famous and not-so-famous stories when trust was won or lost.

We wanted to know: Why do customers trust a brand and become loyal to it? What actions make trust endure through difficult times? How do we build a culture of trust from the inside out, starting with our own workforce? What are the tangible long-term benefits of that trust? But first, before we get to these questions, let’s define what we mean by trust.

Through our research, we determined that trust ultimately comes down to just Four Factors. TrustID™ measures these factors, predicts how trust sentiment will impact customer and workforce behaviors, and identifies what actions organizations need to take to (re)build trust.

Humanity means an individual or an organization demonstrates empathy and kindness toward their customers and other stakeholders, treating everyone fairly. We trust a friend to consider our interests, treat us fairly, and offer respect.

Capability means an individual or an organization delivers quality products, experiences, and services. We trust an organization can deliver its promised products or services.

Transparency means an individual or an organization openly shares information, motives, and choices in plain language. We trust someone at work to be straightforward and honest.

Reliability means an individual or an organization consistently and dependably delivers upon promises made, time after time. We trust the brakes on our bicycle will work as well today as they did yesterday.

Measuring trust requires an assessment of the Four Factors. To capture this data, we send out brand surveys to a target population according to the research scope. To find out more about how the survey and measurement approach, check out the The Four Factors of Trust website.

Building trust is the single greatest opportunity to create competitive advantage. It leads to proven change in human behavior. When trust increases, people are more likely to engage in the types of behaviors that build loyalty.

Trust is an ecosystem with far-reaching impact. This ecosystem encompasses and organization’s workers, customers, and partners. This is why we apply TrustID beyond the B2C space. We’ve conducted numerous surveys on the workforce experience to find ways to enhance trust between employees and employers. We’ve also launched B2B surveys in a variety of industries to better understand how companies can strengthen their business relationships with their buyers. This approach allows an organization a holistic approach into improving trust across all areas of their ecosystem.

Brands that achieve a strong TrustID score see valuable results, such as outperforming their peers by up to four times in terms of total market value. There is even an impact on company value, as we found a 5% rise in expected stock return when a company’s TrustID score increased just one point—from 50 to 51. Our analysis demonstrates that trust, as measured by TrustID, is a powerful driver of financial value for organizations.

For a modern organization to thrive, it’s not enough to talk the talk. Consumers, workers, and partners need to see organizations walk the walk. They need to act on the promises they make.

TrustID allows for a simple yet meaningful assessment of trust through the Four Factors of Humanity, Transparency, Capability, and Reliability. Activating trust brings profound impact with a ripple effect. And that’s the goal of TrustID: help leaders measure trust, predict trust, and act in ways that proactively build trust for their organizations and for society as a whole.

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