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To be trusted, business needs more people skills

January 29, 2012

Edleman has just released its latest Trust Barometer and it makes for an interesting read as trust levels in business and government seem to be in decline worldwide. The only improving sector appears to be media.

Looking forward to the future, Edelman’s report indicates that business needs to think much more about societal issues in order to gain that all important trust.

The reports data shows that currently, trust is being driven by success with operational issues like; financial returns, innovation and leadership. These drivers seem to match with the current preoccupations of most company’s CEOs and senior management, with innovation having been the “buzzword” for the past decade.

Winning trust in the future appears to be all about understanding and delivering against what Edelman terms “societal” issues; the most important of these is placing greater importance on the needs of consumers- listening to customer needs and feedback ranks no1 and placing customers ahead of profits is no 4. People issues appear to be dominant, because treating employees well ranks no 3.

Broader ethical issues follow these “people issues” with taking actions to address issues and crises and having ethical business practices ranking no4 and no6 on the list.

It’s interesting that while so much emphasis in the past has been placed on the environment as an issue, it still matters, but “people” are now a bigger issue. Perhaps it’s because the environment is abstract and how a company acts with consumers and employees is more tangible, easier to relate to and a good barometer for the ethics of a company.

These results should make companies think much more about their communication efforts and encourage them to focus on demonstrating that they are acting in the interests of their customers,  listening to them, value their employees and their contributions.

These seems to demand more active and sophisticated strategies with social media, than just a Facebook page with coupons and promotions. Companies need to find the right social media channels and platforms to connect with consumers in order to genuinely solicit their input and demonstrate and update customers on how this input is being used, but also to find ways to bring the people behind the company and the humanity of the business to life in a real and transparent manner.


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