Imagine pitching this start-up company to a potential investor: “It’s like a giant yard sale where people purchase used clothes, electronics, even cars from total strangers based solely on the seller’s description and pictures. It’s open 24/7/365, and will attract visitors from around the world.”
Sounds ludicrous, right?
Actually, it’s spot on. Today, eBay is a $35 billion company with over 235 million registered users, engaged in over one million transactions a day. And, according to Stephen M.R. Covey and Greg Link, authors of the new book Smart Trust: Creating Prosperity, Energy, and Joy in a Low-Trust World, it’s because when you really look at the company and its founder Pierre Omidyar’s business plan, trust is at the helm.
“People everywhere are basically good,” states former eBay CEO Meg Whitman. “We provided the tools and reinforced the values, but our users built eBay. Our community’s willingness to trust eBay—and each other—was the foundation of eBay’s success.”
After reading an advanced copy of Covey and Link’s book, it’s easy to see how revisiting the idea that people are inherently good, holds some clout. Trust still works. And, even better, smart trust—not blind trust—means smart business.
Covey and Link are not touting naiveté —wear your heart on your sleeve; arms wide open, eyes closed shut, trust. Rather, the book challenges readers to be aware of the vast possibilities afforded when trust is reintroduced into business.
“A fundamental element of eBay’s approach is self-policing, much like that engaged in by the Maghribi Traders in the 10th Century Mideast,” write Covey and Link. “eBay buyers and sellers do business in a highly transparent way…creating a reputation for each trader, which affects his/her credibility.”
NAR research has long shown that real estate professionals work in a high-trust industry. The most important factor by far according to the NAR 2011 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers when choosing an agent is honesty and trust. In fact, trustworthiness has held its place at No. 1 since 2006, and prior to that, can be argued to have been lumped in with reputation for over a decade.
Colloquially, this is often summed up as, “People want to do business with people they know, like and trust.” Trust can power any company to the top no matter what industry you’re in.
So, what’s the No. 1 thing you do to build trust with your customers?