Magazine article Marketing

Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - Do Companies Need to Appoint a Chief Trust Officer?

Magazine article Marketing

Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - Do Companies Need to Appoint a Chief Trust Officer?

Article excerpt

As banks ponder how to rebuild consumers' trust, is it time for all brands to rethink how to protect this most precious commodity and even to appoint a full-time custodian in order to safeguard it?


The trust customers place in a brand is founded on a few factors: heritage, reputation and, most importantly, our experience with them Companies should be up-front about what they stand for and communicate this clearly - to customers and staff alike. Today's consumers are more sceptical and empowered than ever. Brands need to recognise and respect this.

A single, motivated and aggrieved individual can no longer be dismissed With a mouse click they have the power to recruit an army of followers. Online rumblings should be addressed head-on, as with Dell's self-combusting batteries. The brand bought up search terms to communicate the truth and offered replacements. Dell also uses ideas forums to listen to consumers - all part of building trust.

Trust should run throughout an organisation: from the call taken by customer services to the product consumed. The job of 'trust officer' should be within every employee's job description - not just one. It's the Holy Grail of any brand and we all need to make sure it is nurtured and preserved.


It seems to me that the more institutions invite customers to 'trust' them, the less credible they appear.

Trust cannot be asserted. It takes familiarity, consistency, experience and, above all, time to grow. It can't be hurried. Moreover, trust doesn't respond well to shocks and surprises.

Once broken, trust is awfully difficult to restore. That said, an apology is always a good place to start. Without acceptance, without atonement and a measure of humility, it's difficult to see how any organisation can begin to rebuild confidence with the public.

Trust is embodied in the brand, which is itself a promise. It's embodied in policy and process, in the very people we employ. In that sense, it really is a shared responsibility and it should endure beyond any individual career span. Should we make trust one person's responsibility?

There's really no need, it already is. That person usually carries the acronym 'CEO' immediately after their name.


Trust and respect need to be earned. …

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