Our society is coping with unprecedented challenges. Your customers, employees, and partners are all facing growing uncertainties and concerns, such as: income inequality and job insecurity, social unrest, and misinformation and disinformation. Meanwhile, systemic risks like climate change, pandemics, and global recessions have wrought significant health, safety, and financial impacts. Established societal institutions have often failed to unify and guide their communities. These concurrent forces are transforming how and who we trust and making trust more fragile. But human beings are hardwired to trust. Greek philosopher Aristotle said that human beings are “social animals”: They must enter into relationships with one another to live life. This means that trust is up for grabs, and the race to earn it is on.

Organizations that succeed at building and continuously reinforcing trust have the unique opportunity to build enduring bonds with customers, attract the best, most dedicated talent, and create unique experiences with an ecosystem of partners and emerging technologies that people embrace, not fear — all while minimizing risk. Every company must embrace this opportunity and commit to trust as a business imperative.

Today, Forrester launched new research to help companies win their customers’, employees’, and partners’ trust. “The Trust Imperative” is the first report in a comprehensive research stream that finally:

  • Makes trust concrete. We crafted a specific trust definition built on the relationship between confidence and expectations, which is at the core of trust. The research also identifies and defines a set of seven levers that influence how individuals trust. Every company can pull and push on each lever to adjust trust to a desired level or identified need.

  • Enables companies to define an optimal trust level and mix, depending on their business model. Not every company needs the same amount of trust or recognises the same trust levers as the most important to influence how customers, employees, and partners trust them. Some companies might find that transparency and accountability are key to establish trust relationships in their ecosystem, but other companies might focus on empathy and competence. These are not random decisions. Our research provides a set of data-driven examples that enable a company to determine the optimal mix of primary and secondary trust levers.
  • Recognises multiple dimensions of trust simultaneously. Existing trust research typically analyses trust as a relationship between two parties (or set of parties) at a given time: a company and its customers or a company and its business partners, for example. But business interactions are more fluid than this, and each company deals with customers, employees, and partners at the same time. Companies also develop, deploy, and rely on technology. In particular, how a company wields emerging technology will affect trust between every audience it engages. Our research helps businesses understand and manage trust relationships across multiple dimensions simultaneously.
  • Builds on a unique set of quantitative and qualitative data. Our research leverages new consumer and employee data to equip companies with the answers to their most urgent trust questions. This includes quantitative and qualitative analysis of key variables, such as who consumers trust when making their purchase decisions, what the consequences of failing individuals’ trust are, and how businesses can recover from it.
  • Includes a scorecard for taking stock of how others trust them. Forrester’s trust scorecard is the starting point for every organization that wants to design, execute, and optimise a sound trust strategy. The scorecard requires direct, quantitative feedback from customers, employees, and partners to enable companies to measure how their ecosystem trusts them and identify critical gaps.

The time to embrace trust as your business imperative is now. C-level executives in every organization must equip themselves with the tools to develop and execute successful trust strategies. Read “The Trust Imperative,” and schedule an inquiry with Forrester analysts to get your trust journey started today.