What happens when a promise made by a company is broken? Complaining on Twitter. No more customer. You can lost trust one customer at a time, or en masse. When companies suffer surges in demand that let customers down (Clorox wipes) or just get caught with their hand in the data cookie jar (Facebook), customers begin to ponder the brand. When the promise is kept, there are no questions. Keep buying. Keep logging in.
The core of a brand as a promise. It's the promise your company makes–and keeps–to its best audience. There's no brand without that promise that your company is going to perform the task or provide the product in your own special way - that the customer wants and cares about.
Clorox Wipes have been out of stock for about a year. I don't grudge the company one bit, but my loyalties (if they ever existed) have evaporated. I no longer trust that I'll be able to find them, so I no longer look for them. Facebook has betrayed our collective trust so many times, I cannot believe I had to sign up for an account (friend me!) after three years away, knowing that they will exploit every 1 and 0 they gather about my digital behavior.
Clorox has been replaced. I accept the reasons why their promise was broken. Facebook has lost all trust. I do not accept much of what they've done. I do not like transacting with them. I do not want to do it. The only thing I want less than an Oculus is an Oculus by Facebook. But then, they offer a powerful value proposition. I can connect with my family. I can connect with all the great people on Sweathead. I can advertise to prospects. All in ways I can't do as easily or as well without their service. I overlook their lapses in good behavior and good citizenship, because the benefits for me are more useful.
At least I go in with eyes open, I tell myself, as each keystroke is streamed directly to Zuck's data cauldron. If only that were it; that I make this choice despite myself and move on happily with my day. This level of broken trust makes me reflect poorly on my own self-image. I'm a hypocrite for using this platform, the same way one might feel going back to a partner who has cheated on them. Using the service makes me feel bad. About myself. Because it has broken my trust, but I need to use it. Each time I use it, I resent it more, based only on how they've broken my trust up til now, but not factoring for the future failures that I fully expect at this point. Yikes.
I spoke with the author of Trustworthy, How The Smartest Brands Beat Cynicism and Bridge the Trust Gap, Margot Bloomstein about how some brands design their communication and UX around building and maintaining trust, so their customers don't feel icky. In the book, she uses a collection of great examples to make her points, and goes pretty deep on the work they did to identify the point of trust and keep improving on that front.
Here is a transcript of the episode: http://adampierno.com/you-can-trust-margot-bloomstein/