Building trust

This week I spoke at Ethical Corporation’s annual Responsible Business Summit in London.

The theme of the panel was ‘How companies will build trust in 2020’ – something which I feel is essential for the growth, and survival, of any company in today’s climate.  The corporate world has faced challenging times recently with established professions such as banking and print journalism coming under unprecedented scrutiny.  And I believe there is definitely a ripple effect – those not currently in the spotlight should avoid complacency at all costs.

At O2, trust is built into our DNA – in fact it’s one of our four brand values.  So the summit was a great opportunity to share and discuss my views and experiences.

One of the key issues I touched on during the panel discussion is the lack of confidence around digital technology and how this could impact businesses such as ours.  This has the potential to erode trust in the very services that will help to propel digital Britain forward.

Confidence and trust really matter in a digital society.  They will accelerate our progress and create an environment where technology is available to all and everyone is empowered to innovate.  If we as a nation are lacking in confidence and trust, it will constrain our growth.

So what do we need to do to make sure we can seize the opportunity that digital Britain will bring to individuals, businesses and the economy?  In my view, we need to be confident in three key areas that all underpin a digital society:

  • Digital capability
  • Digital literacy
  • Digital transparency

Confidence in all three areas can be achieved by embracing a new digital behaviour.  The 4G opportunity should be the catalyst for a significant behavioural shift that will improve national wellbeing and our economic output.  If we get these three things right, Britain will be confident in its digital abilities and prosper more quickly from the opportunities the digital revolution brings.  We recognise the biggest contribution we can make is to become the trusted provider of digital services.

So how can you build trust?

Trust is about the things you do, and the things you start doing and stop doing.  It’s built on millions of acts and deeds that you do every day, and that starts with the way you do business.

Insight tells us that customers first need to like you, they then need to appreciate what you are doing and what you stand for.  Only then will they begin to trust you.

At O2 we work hard to provide our customers with services and experiences that they value and love.  Building loyalty through the big things and the little things – they all add up.

And we’re transparent.  Openness is the key to building and sustaining trust – being honest about what we know, and what we don’t.  And about the mutual benefits – what’s in it for customers, and what’s in it for the business.

We’ve learnt that how you respond in a crisis can really test the trust you’ve built.  It’s essential to deliver on values at every touch point.  And everyone at O2 has a role to play.

Bringing colleagues on board is essential – they live, breathe and communicate the culture of the organisation.  Reflecting the brand and engaging with customers.  They help us build trust.

We can do all this because trust is part of our DNA.  It is embedded into our brand – so is reflected in our people, our services, our innovations and our customers.