Is your organisation threatened by the 'trust flutter'?by
Recent research has revealed a disturbing drop in the customer trust organisations enjoy from customers. Jo Thomson explores how this is impacting firms - and how they can respond.
- Reducing 'non essential' expenditure
- Lean service/ process improvement
- Driving customers onto self serve
What stands out the most is that across everyone we interviewed – there was little evidence that management practices and cultures had moved on or were being developed to meet customers’ and citizens’ changing needs and expectations, including rebuilding trust. If anything, the opposite was the case with most organisations focused on cost-cutting at the risk of damaging customer relationships.
Strategies for re-building trust
- Get your house in order - Feedback indicates that while the spotlight is on cost, survival and re-growth, managers take their eye off the ball when it comes to sustaining and developing good culture. Over 80% of interviewees agreed they had pulled back on activities required to build a good culture as a result of the recession. This was predominantly slippage on regular check in’s, coaching and learning. Key to success is building capability through connecting and committing with your people.
- Build open collaborative organisations - If trust is to be rebuilt and developed with your customer base, then senior managers must rebuild and sustain levels of trust within their own organisations first. Many of those interviewed were beginning to use Web 2.0 techniques to gather views and real-time feedback to assess operational performance, however only a few were driving the same level of collaboration internally for employees. Key to success is:
- Plugging into your people, regardless of role or position or hierarchy.
- Ensuring your people match increased expectations by having open, adult, professional, two way dialogue.
- Delete corporate speak and get real - While there’s a constant swing in the barometer between trust and tension – most interviewees recognise the need and desire to be clear in their communications – both with their people and their customer base. Many interviewees are even more aware that the best management practices fail to deliver internally because they are communicated both internally and externally using ‘corporate speak’, which does not explain in simple language what is required of individuals. Key to success is being confident that your organisation’s brand values mean something to people and that they’re demonstrated at every point of contact.
- More and better communication - If we continue to speak in non jargon terms, our interviewees agreed that the goal of rebuilding trust has to start from within. All emphasised the importance of ongoing communication. This was to ensure key messages were understood and also to motivate staff. Although this is possibly the oldest and most hackneyed piece of management advice, our interviewees told us that it was still difficult to get right. In fact, over two thirds acknowledge that their internal communication with colleagues could be improved. Key to success is blending a wide range of new, reinforced and additional communications into daily culture in a positive way – rather than the extremes of bombarding or leaving people in the dark.
Jo Thomson is MD of Procter.