Christopher Murphy explores the most valuable commodity for any business
Christopher Murphy explores trust – one of the most valuable commodities for any business
Regardless of whether money is involved, there’s one commodity in business that always changes hands: trust.
Whether you’re working on a client project that involves confidential information or gathering your customer’s intimate personal details within a SaaS product, it’s important that you keep the bond of trust between business and customers sacred.
Over the last year, we’ve witnessed a number of high-profile cases where the bond of trust between business and customer hasn’t been handled with the respect it deserves.
Facebook’s launch of Portal – and the subsequent backlash the product received on social media – is evidence of how a breach of trust can erode brand loyalty in a manner that can rapidly spiral out of control. Why? Because the business abused the trust of its customers. Facebook’s handling of the Cambridge Analytica scandal – particularly the reticence of Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, to accept some responsibility – significantly eroded trust in the brand.
Compounded by earlier reports that Zuckerberg had branded Facebook’s customers “dumb f_cks,” for trusting the business with their data ( http://bit.ly/ fbdumbfucks), this added up to a culture of disregard for consumers’ trust. And – as these things have a habit of doing – this came back to haunt the business. Facebook, of course, is not alone.
On 8 October, Google announced ‘Project Strobe’, an initiative designed to protect customers’ data, improve the business’s third-party APIs, and – tucked away at the end of the list – sunset Google+.
Buried in the announcement was an admission that one of Google+’s APIs had leaked the private information of over 500,000 users to third-party developers between 2015 and 2018.
Leaking the private information of half a million users is bad enough but worse was the fact that an internal memo, obtained by the Wall Street Journal, revealed Google had covered up the breach for fear of regulatory repercussions. As the Journal summarised, the memo, “warned the company’s senior executives that disclosing the incident would spark ‘immediate regulatory interest’ and ‘almost guarantees [CEO] Sundar [Pichai] will testify before Congress’.”
That Pichai was aware of this and yet chose to keep the breach buried anyway is alarming. It demonstrates either: a staggering lack of understanding of the importance of the bond of trust between a business and its customers or a flagrant disregard for those customers.
The damage that this breach of trust does to Google’s brand is measured not in days, weeks or months, but in years. There are, of course, lessons to be learned here and you don’t need to be a company the size of Google to learn them.
Trust is your most important commodity
Cultivating an open and honest business culture will pay dividends in the long run. When things go wrong, as they occasionally do, own up and take responsibility. Your customers will appreciate your honesty and you’ll protect the all-important bond of trust that, deep down, drives your business.
With Facebook’s tarnished trustworthiness, it’s no surprise that Portal launched to widespread backlash