Can we measure trust?

In a digital business environment, how might we measure trust? Can any quantitative data help? Or is it all qualitative?

I was contacted by Shane Breslin, a writer, podcaster and entrepreneur who reached out to me after stumbling upon one of my old blog posts while Googling “Avinash Kaushik trust”.

Reading back my blog post brought some great memories from another time! It’s funny to read about “influencer” years before it was trendy :)

But the most important point for me is this: I feel privileged, 12 years after this post, to have accomplished all I did. I’m blessed what I wrote still holds true today and I continue to learn, to share, to grow professionally and personally. I recently said something I think is super important:

We learn from others, others learn from us, that’s the circle of life.

Now, back to our main question: In a digital business environment, how might we measure trust? I find it particularly interesting because I have decidedly taken a path toward privacy and the ethical use of data — which necessarily involves trust.

Plus, my tag line is now “All the world is made of faith, and trust, and privacy dust,” as a direct relation to Peter Pan, Tinker Bell and the pixie dust which are the tidbits of privacy we sprinkle everywhere we go.

Let’s start with a few philosophical points:

  • Trust, like love, is hard to describe, but it’s easy to know when it’s lost.
  • Trust, like engagement, is hard to describe because it varies so much depending on your personal values, culture, life events and such.
  • Trust is a quality, not a quantity.

So, if we can measure trust, can we or can’t we measure it as a quantitative value rather than a qualitative one? Which metric could we use to measure trust?

I propose two starting points and I’m totally open to your suggestions:

  • One way to measure trust might be “Net Promoter Score,” a popular way to measure brand engagement & loyalty. For example, Scotiabank use NPS to measure trust;
  • Gallup has a great article which I use in my MBA classes. It talks about engagement and emotional attachment — the CE11 asks 3 questions about loyalty, and 8 other questions about attachment: confidence, integrity, pride and passion.

In both cases, they turn qualitative attributes into metrics which can be measured over time.

Gallup CE11

I think the Gallup CE11 more closely defines trust because it addresses its emotional attributes. Those few questions get at the heart of customer loyalty — and trust.

L3 + A8 = CE11

Loyalty

  • Overall, how satisfied are you with [brand]?
  • How likely are you to continue to choose/repurchase [brand]?
  • How likely are you to recommend [brand] to a friend/associate?

Attachment

Confidence

  • [Brand] is a name I can always trust.
  • [Brand] always delivers on what they promise.

Integrity

  • [Brand] always treats me fairly.
  • If a problem arises, I can always count on [brand] to reach a fair and satisfactory resolution.

Pride

  • I feel proud to be a [brand] customer.
  • [Brand] always treats me with respect.

Passion

  • [Brand] is the perfect company for people like me.
  • I can’t imagine a world without [brand].

Why does it work? Try replacing [brand] with the name of your loved one!

What do you think? Is trust merely another ego variable that can’t be measured or is it a quantifiable metric which can correlate with other economic indicators?

Stéphane Hamel is a seasoned independent digital marketing and analytics consultant, innovator, teacher and speaker with a strong interest for user privacy and the ethical use of data.

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All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust. Digital marketer & analyst with a strong interest for privacy and the ethical use of data.

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