Study: Communication Drives More Than 20% Of Customer Trust

A top concern for retailers is creating a strong brand presence and positive reputation. To achieve this, it is vital that companies develop a trusting and loyal relationship with customers. According to the study The Role of Trust in Consumer Relationships, conducted by the ECSP Europe Business School and released by Pitney Bowes Business Insight, communication is key.

In an online survey of 1,000 UK consumers and 1,000 U.S. consumers, ECSP Europe determined that customer communication drives more than 20% of a customer’s trust in a company. The study also concluded that trust is created by a company’s policies, practices, and the customer’s previous experience. Additionally, the formation of emotional and rational trust influences up to 44% of brand loyalty.

In the study, the topic of customer trust was separated into two categories — emotional trust and rational trust. Consumers found rational trust to be a driver of more than 56% of emotional dependency on a brand. Other prominent factors that create a strong emotional relationship with customers include: front line employees (16%), management policies (14%), marketing communications (9%), and self-service technologies (5%).

The division of factors that create rational trust, however, were spread more evenly. Trust in front line employees was named the most-considered factor, comprising 21% of a consumer’s trust level. Management policies (19%), marketing communications (18%), and past experience (18%), also were key factors in determining overall reliability in a company. Surprisingly, brand reputation was not as important, making up only 9% of what establishes a customer’s trust level.


“Trusted brands build upon each interaction to enable lifetime customer relationships,” said David Newberry, Chief Marketing Officer of Pitney Bowes Business Insight, in a press statement. “Every customer interaction ― in person, on a Web site, with direct mail, or with a call center ― is an opportunity to build or break trust.”

In response to the survey’s results, senior marketing managers interviewed offered 10 tips on how companies can gain and maintain trust in each relationship formed. 

The top five tips on how to achieve customer trust are:

1. Get your service right: Since past experience, reputation and word of mouth are key factors in building a dedicated consumer base, it’s important for retailers to determine and listen for basic customer needs, manage the brand’s reputation and use social networks to enhance communication.

2. Get it right when it really matters: Identify when to put communication into action. Rather than flooding social networks, Twitter logs and inboxes, find the right event to reach out to consumers and show compassion when needed.

3. Make customers feel “looked after.”

4. Make front-line staff a priority: Customers must trust a retailer’s employees before they can trust a brand. Ensure top-quality staff by covering the bases of competence, values and ethics.

5. Customize: Whether it’s through social media, email or telephone, reach out to individuals when it’s necessary. The quicker a retailer eliminates customer issues or concerns, the better.

By building the quality and quantity of consumer-brand interaction, solving problems quickly, and utilizing strong customer care, retailers can maintain a solid foundation for being considered a trusting company. As a result, they will not only develop more relationships with shoppers, but stronger ones.

Featured Event

Join the retail community as we come together for three days of strategic sessions, meaningful off-site networking events and interactive learning experiences.



Access The Media Kit


Access Our Editorial Calendar

If you are downloading this on behalf of a client, please provide the company name and website information below: