BUILDING A VALUES-BASED RELATIONSHIP IS A JOURNEY TOWARD A SINGLE GOAL: TRUST.
Just as our closest personal relationships need constant nurturing, trustworthy brands need to nurture their relationships with their customers by keeping vigilant watch over their performance. Measuring our ability to live out our values over time requires a model that provides accountability. Not unlike Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the trust journey takes on a like-minded path, beginning with fundamental base values and progressing to emotive, self-actualizing values that help us build meaningful, trusting relationships.
Breaking down the 5c's
Trust is anything but a simple or unified science. To adequately measure it, we need to look at multiple factors. The Values Institute and the Center for Brand Values Communication and Research have determined that five distinct dimensions or variables of trust must be assessed in any measurement of a brand’s trustworthiness.
Competence measures the ability to deliver on what you say. From a corporate perspective, can your company achieve what it promises to its employees and customers? Are employees trained and capable of providing what customers expect? It may seem like a given but there are plenty of examples of companies with big dreams who struggle at this basic level. Without competence it is impossible to wade into the deeper waters of meaningful relationship building.
Consistency answers the question, “Am I dependable?” You can’t measure trust episodically. If you, or a co-worker is inconsistent, those around you tend to withdraw from the relationship rather than draw closer. In many corporate environments, competent employees’ performance can be stymied by an ineffective structure. Antiquated customer relationship tools or outdated IT systems can directly contradict well-meaning, competent employees.
Are you honest? Are your communications transparent? From a brand perspective, candor is the measure of how the public perceives the genuineness and openness of an organization. A lack of communication creates uneasiness between leaders and employees. Authenticity is now a demand among a discerning public. Inauthentic brands, much like inauthentic people, find themselves on the outside of relationships looking in.
Concern is a measure of how you demonstrate that you care. It’s one thing to be competent and consistent in your performance, but if you don’t take time to show you care about others you’ll fall short in cementing meaningful relationships. By clearly focusing on relationships and human needs more than the bottom line, a business has the opportunity to leverage its values in new and meaningful ways.
The potent combination of rational and emotive trust factors build up to the one dimension of self-actualization that requires the participation of the customer–connection. It is the measure of how well you, as an individual or your company, identifies with the relationships you value most. If your customers feel deeply connected to your brand, they will remain loyal over time. The most potent relationships are those that are authentically built on a foundation of shared common values aligned so tightly that they become indistinguishable from one another.