IT decision makers don't trust vendors, says TNS
Fewer than one in six IT professionals (15%) believe that "most IT companies can be trusted completely", according to an international survey evaluating the drivers of IT brand trust, published by TNS.
Conducted across four key global markets (the UK, USA, France, and Germany) the survey's findings also suggest that IT professionals are very wary of their suppliers, with 69% of IT professionals thinking that "some IT companies are likely to take advantage of you", while only 33% believe that IT companies are "honest in describing their product".
Differences in trust The US is more trusting of IT brands, with 19% of US respondents feeling that IT companies can be trusted completely, compared to only 9% in the UK, 8% in France and 7% in Germany.
Of those companies which provide IT products or services, 'multi-service' providers (those that operate in a number of categories including hardware, software and consulting services) had the highest levels of brand trust with 50% of respondents saying the brand was "completely trustworthy". But IT service providers (those that provide IT consulting and outsourcing services) were least likely to be trusted by IT professionals, with only 10% of respondents saying they would trust such a brand.
Trust factors The research showed that the most important factors contributing to trust are:
- Marketing high quality and reliable products;
- Selling products and services that perform as promised;
- Operating a well-run company;
- Operating a company that is honest and has integrity.
The survey's respondents also said that, overall, IT companies are performing better on product-related drivers of trust and the people that support these products, and less well on drivers of trust related to the quality of the end-user/vendor relationship (including 'acting in the best interests of customers' and 'sharing information frankly and clearly with customers').
Brand warning "These findings suggest that the IT industry worldwide needs to do a lot to address the levels of mistrust which are rife within this business sector," warned Thomas Finkle, managing director for the TNS IT Practice. "While the industry has always understood that the consistent delivery of high quality, reliable products, and the ability to meet client expectations, are critical drivers of client trust, these findings underline the importance of communicating the stability of business operations and the integrity with which the business is run."
According to Finkle, it is also clear that IT vendors do not sufficiently emphasize these themes in their branding efforts, instead focusing predominantly on the use of technology to solve business problems.
Conclusion "IT suppliers, and consultants in particular, must look at the wider picture and appreciate the range of attributes driving brand trust - such as quality relationships with clients and a clear business strategy with a stable future - rather than taking a product-centric view of business," added Finkle. "Clearly a business solutions approach has a role to play but, without taking into consideration other key values, such a strategy is unlikely to build trust."
The Four Pillars of Trust in IT Brands survey was conducted by the IT division of TNS, via online interviews with 830 IT decision makers in the UK, US, France, and Germany, between August and September 2003.