As a human beings, we have strong desire to develop relationships – personal or business. Trust is critical component of it.

How do you define Trust ?

Treat it as a positive expectation that the other party will act in honest and benevolent ways, reducing fear that one may be exploited. .

In any business transaction, consumers trust providers to give product/service as expected. In turn providers trust consumers pay back in return as per terms agreed upon.

Mismatches happen when interpretations differ between consumer and provider. What is considered as ‘viable service or product’ from provider’s perspective might be different from customer. They further lead to altercations/costly law-suits.

With onset of globally connected  economies, here are couple of points on how ‘Trust’ or rather interpretation of it is changing overall business landscape

  • World is getting better connected each passing day. So, it is possible that you would interact with more cultures in your lifetime than your parents did. Each culture has totally different approach about how they interpret trust and build it.

As HBR article states,

Generally speaking, in the West the default is “trust.” I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, and consider you basically trustworthy until you do something that breaks our trust. In China, the default tilts more toward “distrust” – I only award you my trust after you’ve proven yourself worthy of it. This attitude is illustrated in an eloquent way by the popular Chinese saying that “early birds get shot” (qiang da chu tou niao) – which reflects the strong desire to avoid any social risks.

  • Trust is built step-by-step, per interaction no matter how small that be. In psychology, it is called Ben Franklin effect.

A person who has performed a favor for someone is more likely to do another favor for that person than they would be if they had received a favor from that person.

In his autobiography, Franklin explains how he dealt with the animosity of a rival legislator when he served in the Pennsylvania legislature in the 18th century:

Having heard that he had in his library a certain very scarce and curious book, I wrote a note to him, expressing my desire of perusing that book, and requesting he would do me the favour of lending it to me for a few days. He sent it immediately, and I return’d it in about a week with another note, expressing strongly my sense of the favour. When we next met in the House, he spoke to me (which he had never done before), and with great civility; and he ever after manifested a readiness to serve me on all occasions, so that we became great friends, and our friendship continued to his death.

Trust is built step-by-step, by each transaction whether it is just the simple email or returning courtesy call.

Opposite of Ben Franklin effect is also true, as you can notice that small issue in trust can derail long-term profitable relationships.

Lying or boasting is one of the sure-fire ways for breaking the trust. Irrespective of whether it is simple and harmless lie when customer calls your help-desk and he would automatically put on hold with automated message. It generally leads to bigger  controversies when companies lie about emission control norms for example.
While lying might give you short-term benefit, more than often it causes long term damage.

  •  Freemium or not, definition of trust remains the same. It does not depend on whether customer is paying for the service/product or not. Customer would expect it to meet expectations anyway. Most companies offer free product/service to lure customer in. If it itself does not meet expectations in first place, it would be difficult to develop it in fulfilling business relationship with that customer.

Idea is to consider every  interaction (whether personal or business one) as way to build the trust . You will be amazed to see how it pays back in the long term.