Is customer service the only real way to build trust?

We need a plan to stop trust draining away

customer service trust
Image credit: Vladimir Zhoga /

Some years ago there was a rule in the world of customer service which executives would laminate and stick to the wall of their office.

It said that for every customer who complains there are 10 who would if they could be bothered and for every customer who praises you there are 100 who feel the same and who can’t be bothered to tell you.

Whilst the level of noise and the ease with which people can share their opinions is now at ear shattering levels you have to wonder whether the same is true or whether social media has encouraged more and more people to share their outrage or praise.

If the ratios are still true or even similar, many companies have a deep-rooted problem.

Customers are basically unhappy despite what statistics taken from endless customer surveys might suggest.

In store we complain (to ourselves mainly) about the tired nonchalant approach by the people behind the counters (exceptions apply obviously) and online if something goes wrong then we can spend hours trying to find how to actually speak to someone to sort it out, worrying that the transaction might have gone through in the meantime.

Customers are losing trust in the companies (and Governments) that they transact and interact with. It is meaningless to say that in developed countries telcos are most trusted than banks, while in developing countries the reverse is true. Telcos might be the more trusted but if the real score is only 5 out of 10, then the overall level of trust in anyone or anything is scarily low.

The likelihood of trust levels rising in the next year or two is very low. More companies will be hacked and more companies will admit to having been hacked in the past. Transparency will decrease not increase as the unintended consequences of a free internet and unmanageable social media really bites. Governments around the world will tighten their scrutiny of social media, not loosen it.

So, less trust all around.

‘They’ say that trust is an asset – and so it is – but it is a depreciating one. ‘They’ say that telcos and/or banks have a fantastic opportunity to leverage that trust and they do.

But the only real way to begin or continue is to focus completely on improving customer service, while shoring up the defences at the same time.

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