The four components of trust


Trust is one of the most valuable currencies in our relationships, with other people, between businesses and between the company and its customers.

These are the four components of trust with practical examples of how to use them.

1 Credibility (the realm of words)

Credibility is our level of expertise and how we present our knowledge.

We can boost our credibility by:

  • Developing and sharing formidable expertise in our industry
  • Staying current with industry trends and business news
  • Offering our point of view (when we have one)
  • Expressing passion for your areas of expertise
  • Communicating with self-assurance (branding, consistency, user experience)
  • Give correct, complete and unbiased information

Practical examples in user experience design:

  • Stories
  • News
  • Technology insights
  • Technical illustrations

2 Reliability (the realm of actions)

Reliability is built over time, but it can be destroyed in a second. Do you fulfil the promises you make? Do you deliver on your commitment?

We can boost our reliability by:

  • Consistency in communication, design, patterns and information architecture
  • Customer relationships and support
  • Customer decision support tools
  • Products and services do what they claim to do
  • Security and privacy

Practical examples in user experience design:

  • Proper feedback
  • Graceful fail, or preferably no possibility to fail
  • ISO documentation, certificates, manufacturing standards
  • GDPR best practices
  • Sufficient information

3 Affinity (the realm of emotions)

Affinity (relationship/rapport) is the emotional assessment of the integrity and benevolence of the company or individual.

We can boost our affinity by:

  • Using storytelling to share our values
  • Being transparent
  • “Realness” (no big words or inflated sales pitches)
  • Trustworthy identity design and tone of voice
  • Quality and good experiences

Practical examples in user experience design:

  • Ensure a great first impression (design and quality)
  • Share company history and values
  • Use strong imagery
  • Always explain why you ask for something from the customer (transparency)
  • Quality assure EVERYTHING

4 Self orientation (the realm of motives)

Are you oriented towards finding win-win situations that take other’ need into account, or are you only serving yourself?

We can boost our trust in our motives by:

  • Listen to the customer, understand what they want, need and expect
  • Take enough time to find the best solution
  • Be ready to change based on customer insights
  • Communicate corporate moral and values

Practical examples in user experience design:

  • Be honest, don’t oversell
  • Be helpful and provide value and “7-star experiences” through knowing what the user needs (customer-centric design)
  • Avoid dark patterns and cognitive methods to manipulate the user into doing or buying something that does not serve them well

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