Cry Wolf

Confirmit Team

Confirmit Team

Author Bio

Confirmit’s dedicated teams work to deliver world-leading customer experience, Voice of the Employee and Market Research solutions. 

Author Bio

We talk about a lot of things in the crazy, mixed up world of Customer Experience. Satisfaction. Recommendation. Easiness. We also talk about trust, but I don’t see it as a metric as often as the others. When dealing with someone, we know if we trust them but it’s hard to quantify. It probably works best as a relative measure, if that one organization is perceived to be more or less trustworthy than another. Either way, knowing you might have a trust issue in the market place should be of great value. Wouldn’t you think?

But, how do you design a customer experience that creates trust? Maintains what you’ve already got? Or builds more of it?

A couple of ideas spring to mind, none of which are overtly clever or technical but each of which seem harder to achieve than I’m sure many businesses and customers would like. Keep your promises, do the right thing, don’t take customers for granted. Simple stuff.

In contrast, I can tell you how you don’t build trust. In fact, I can tell you how to actively erode trust until you get to the point where customers are walking out the door as fast as they can.

You open an automotive dealership.

That’s not fair.

Let me be more specific. I’m sure many of you are like me – you know how to drive a car, but not how to fix it. Which puts you in an awkward position of needing to trust someone else when something happens to your car. Luckily, you have a choice. You can either go to the garage with the big, shiny logo outside and put your trust in the brand, but pay more for this warm feeling of security – or you can seek out an independent who may or may not know or care what they’re doing, but who will undoubtedly charge you less. Tricky.

Now, without wanting to give too much away (mainly for legal reasons, if I’m completely honest), I recently had to return my aging vehicle to the big, shiny logo branded dealership as a result of a recall for a minor issue. While there, the dealership’s diligent staff – without asking – did a free check over the rest of my car. To be clear, not just the bit that prompted the recall – everything. This was in order to assess if anything else needed attention due to safety. So the recall item was all sorted under warranty, but who’d have guessed it? Bless their little hearts, those darling workshop munchkins found problems elsewhere.

You’ve guessed from my tone that trust, in a positive sense, was not featuring highly in this encounter. You see, I’d been to this garage for a warranty repair before. On that instance, they fixed the issue but somehow the car left the workshop with a warning light on. “Oh dear, sir. It looks like we’ll need to fix that for you. That’ll be eight million pounds please.” Coincidence?

So I had been burnt before – or so I perceived. My mind exploded in conspiracy theories as this new bill for what should have been a free morning was presented to me. The dealership and the manufacturer obviously don’t like doing warranty work, as they lose money, I presume. So if they can charge for something else while I’m there? Dubious. Except I’d now cottoned on to their villainous game – and I was having none of it. They had cried wolf before and I now thought they were at it again.

“Please put the car on the ramp and show me the issue that needs fixing,” I said. 

And with the technician waving a tiny mirror around near the rear springs, I tried to see the damage he was talking about. I’ll be honest, I couldn’t see what they meant. It was unconvincing.

And as I struggled to kept these thoughts to myself, it struck me how the big, shiny logo and the all that money invested in branding had been whittled away to nothing by something as simple as perception and people’s behavior. I didn’t trust them anymore. The manufacturer might make lovely cars, but if I can’t trust the people in the dealership who sell and maintain them, then I may as well get on the bus.

I’m not sure what nugget to take from this, except to say I believe trust is a vitally important yet immensely fragile part of the customer experience. And I know it goes both ways. Undoubtedly, we should include this in our measurements more often, but I’m more perplexed by what actions we should be taking to ensure trust is nurtured between organizations and customers alike.


Post-script: I took the car to my trusted independent workshop and they confirmed that, yes, the springs were damaged, it was dangerous and they should be replaced right away. Turns out big shiny logo wasn’t lying after all. But they haven’t got my money.