Billy Joel released “A Matter of Trust” in 1986. I was still in high school, and this song became an anthem of my life.

Trust is not a given! It is not absolute, must be earned, nurtured, and can be lost at a moment’s notice if that trust is not mutual.

This month, Edelman released its 20th Annual Trust Barometer, and the results were not good. Trust, no matter where you live in this world, whether you think of trust as between people, with companies, with government, religion, or anyone else is decreasing.  People are becoming more cautious in how they share their data, the information they believe, how they form relationships, and how they do business.

So, how did we get here?

How did we become more and more skeptical as a human race, and what can we do to fix this?

The first part of this question is easier to answer than the second. We have become more skeptical both in our interactions and with and within the companies we work with and for because of our ever-increasing access to information. We do not, nor can we now believe everything people tell us blindly and in complete good faith, because unfortunately, what people do and what they say are not always congruent.

In the world of social media and YELP reviews, it is so easy to find out what others are saying about a person or company beyond the rhetoric that they put up within their marketing. You can even find ways to research a company thoroughly before you walk in for an interview.

I am not saying that every business or person is untrustworthy, far from it. However, we live in a world full of information where if you are untrustworthy or just deemed so, it is harder to hide and even harder to recover from.

Your brand, to paraphrase Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, is how people view you when you are not in the room. You can influence how others perceive you, through your thoughts, words, and actions, but it is how others take all that information and align it with their moral code that will determine whether they believe you are trustworthy or not.

Trust is built one step at a time, day by day, through consistent thoughts, words, and actions.

It is not enough to say that you believe that customer service is your priority in your marketing; instead, you need to make sure:

  • That you don’t leave them on hold for 30-minutes when they call into your tech support or customer service line
  • That when they finally get a customer service or tech support person, that person is knowledgeable and empowered to fix a problem
  • That there is a phone number on your site that people can call into
  • That the “help” email address gets answered
  • That you have trained people at the ready to respond to inquiries on social media
  • That your chatbot helps people and does not frustrate them
  • And, the list can go on

What are you doing to build trust with your clients, within your office, with your vendors and with the individuals that you deal with each and every day?

Are you seen as trustworthy by others?

How do you know?

Time to ask and not be offended by the answers you get.

Editor’s note: Ben Baker’s complimentary online course is now available: “KNOW –  LIKE – TRUST! How to Develop Your Personal Brand”

CLICK HERE to access the course.