Top ten factors that make or break consumer trust

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on January 15, 2007

Three out of five British consumers will not buy a product from a company that they do not trust, however attractive the price, product, or service, according to research published by Corporate Culture.

The research identified healthcare retailer Boots as being the most trusted brand in the UK, with an 85% trust rating, followed by internet search engine provider Google (84%), Microsoft (69%), and cosmetics retailer The Body Shop (66%). These were the findings of the UK's first Customer Trust Index (CTI), which identifies how the issue of consumer trust influences buying decisions.

Key findings
The trust index research also found that:

  • Gender bias
    Women in particular believe trust is an essential quality in the companies they buy from (56% of women cited this as important, compared to 47% of men).
  • Regional bias
    Londoners are the least trusting, followed by those in the North of England, and Scotland. Apart from Londoners, consumers living in the South of England are the most inclined to trust companies.
  • Most trusted & untrusted
    The most and least trusted business sectors are:

    Rank Most trusted Least trusted
    1. Entertainment and leisure Tobacco
    2. Food companies; Supermarkets; Technology Fast food
    3. Pharmaceutical Petrochemicals
    4. Cosmetic/toiletries Gas/electricity; Construction

    Table 1: Most and least trusted sectors
    Source: Corporate Culture Customer Trust Index
  • Top ten trust/distrust factors
    The index also identified the top ten factors that make customers trust or distrust a company:

    Rank Trust drivers Distrust drivers
    1. Keeps promises (76%) Doesn't correct mistakes (80%)
    2. Customer service (70%) Fails to protect privacy (77%)
    3. Consistently high quality (64%) Doesn't do what it says (74%)
    4. Deals effectively with complaints (64%) Inaccurate billing (70%)
    5. Value for money (64%) Too many sales calls (65%)
    6. Honest/admit mistakes (59%) Inconsistent quality (63%)
    7. Product safety (59%) Ingredients may damage health (60%)
    8. Meets individual needs (52%) Doesn't inform price/product
    changes (50%)
    9. Listens to customers (51%) Outsources call centres/operations (55%)
    10. Clear pricing (49%) Unclear pricing (52%)

    Table 2: Factors in consumer trust or distrust of a company
    Source: Corporate Culture Customer Trust Index

The research also noted that trust drives sales. If a company loses the trust of consumers, three out of four (76%) say they will simply stop buying from the company. Conversely, if a company earns consumer trust, 42% will buy more products, and over half (54%) will recommend the product to others.

Four keys to building trust
Corporate Culture has identified four steps to help companies to earn consumer trust:

  1. Ensure your product or service meets the expectations of your customers;
  2. Remember that you are only as good as your last personal contact with the customer;
  3. Show consumers the difference your product makes in their life;
  4. Be seen to act responsibly in everything you do.

According to John Drummond, chief executive for Corporate Culture, "There has been a massive increase in the amount of marketing money companies are spending to win customer trust. This can only make sense if it is based on a genuine understanding of why customers trust companies and what the most powerful form of communication is for them. One of the key points of this research is that the future of marketing is about belief in business. It suggests that what people believe is a more powerful influence on buying behaviour than price, quality or reputation. What people believe is also more powerful than the facts about your company or your product."

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