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Measuring Trust

Trust is a hot topic these days. Banking scandals, politicians’ expenses, big business tax avoidance & child abuse cover ups have all played their part in challenging the concept. We’ve woken up to lies, damn lies & fake news - and we’re fighting back with populism, disruption & network effects. As Rachel Botsman says in her book “Who can you trust?”, the world has shifted from institutional trust to the distributed trust of individuals, networks and platforms.

Trust is both complex and vital.

The ingredients are many & varied - from Trump’s rallying cries of swamp draining, the unfaltering customer service of Amazon, the ethics-on-my-sleeve of Innocent Drinks or the intoxicating convenience of Uber. It can take years to build and moments to break - yet in other instances it builds at a rapacious rate and remains robust, even in the face of conflicting evidence, blatant lies and flaunted regulations.

Trust is vital in an increasingly unpredictable world. It is the key that unlocks the door from the known to the unknown. Only when we trust the technology will we put our credit card details onto websites, our children on theme park rides and ourselves into driverless cars. Trust oils the cogs between the organisation and its employees, customers, distributors & suppliers. If trust is critical to brand loyalty and brand loyalty is critical to growth, so it follows that some measurement of trust should be one of our most important metrics.

Yet its complexity makes it infuriatingly hard to measure.

Since 2002, the Net Promoter Score has measured loyalty, based on one simple question “How likely is it that you would recommend this company/product/service/brand to a friend or colleague?”

Could we find a similar simple question to measure corporate or personal trust? What single truth underpins the trust we place in Innocent, Amazon, Uber, Jeremy Corbin and Trump? I wonder if the question might be: “How strongly do I feel this person/company/brand is ON MY SIDE?”

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