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Start-ups: Trust Sits At The Heart Of Your Business Model

Trust and transparency are watch-words for new businesses.

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Trust and transparency are watch-words for new businesses.

Opinions

Start-ups: Trust Sits At The Heart Of Your Business Model

Trust and transparency are watch-words for new businesses.

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In January, Edelman released their latest annual Trust Barometer. What’s clear is that consumer trust remains a key issue for corporate bodies of all shapes and sizes – but why is that?

Trust is not often something that’s thought about when building out a new business, despite it sitting at the core of every great customer proposition. Consider the disruptive platforms of today that effectively sell trust - trust in their platform, their business ethos, their proposition.

You can’t survive in the digital world without trust

AirBnB for example. Its business model is built on consumers trusting that they can rent out their homes to individuals they don’t know, with AirBnB providing governance and facilitating a two-way ratings system.

The fact that renters and property owners can rate each other goes a long way to creating confidence, and I suspect that ultimately leads to more clicks on the “book now” button. Yes, it would seem that trust drives sales. AirBnB have even moved into providing insurance, reinforcing the type of relationship they have with their customers.

Lesser known brands on the other hand that are missing social proof (like customer reviews) may find this perceived lack of trust is affecting their business.

For example, Google applies a “trust filter” on its seller ratings by not displaying stars until they have a score higher than 3.5 out of 5. Those brands that don’t qualify may well find that consumers overlook them when scanning search results.

Building trust into your business model

The last year has been dominated by the rise of fake news and the apparent ability to manipulate what we all see on social media. Trust is clearly something start-ups need to be thinking about, ensuring that it is part of their culture from the very beginning.

Embracing the voice of the customer is a start, but businesses can take it so much further. Running hand in hand with the urgent need to build trust is that other “T” word - transparency.

The best will start to engage in dialogue, demonstrating how customer feedback helps them shape their business rather than just being a tick-box exercise. Look at how the neo bank Monzo embraces and welcomes feedback from its customers on its ‘transparent product roadmap’.

Listening isn’t enough anymore, consumers expect action - something that doesn’t come naturally to many of the incumbent banks.

Those that embrace trust and transparency will find themselves standing head and shoulders above the rest.  It's time for trust and transparency to be considered in the same breath as “business model”, and perhaps even be added to the next revision of the Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas.

Richard Anson is founder and former CEO of Reevoo.

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Start-ups: Trust Sits At The Heart Of Your Business Model

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