Is it about Trust or Utility

I belong to a number of groups on LinkedIn. It is a useful way to stay connected with some of the conversations in the marketplace and my areas of interest. Today I took a survey sponsored by Business Roundtable, Institute for Corporate Ethics conducted by the Catholic University of America. Here is a link to the survey tinyurl.com/3knmr5e 

I had my awareness raised in how I make decisions about trust and economics through the process of taking the survey. What I found was that Integrity mattered a lot to me. That congruency also mattered. For example, when a company scored high on benevolence and honesty but low on integrity, I tended to trust less. The incongruity between integrity and honesty was too big a leap for me.

The survey was set up to describe a series of small stories about companies and then sharing the scores the companies had received for qualities such as: Ability, Integrity, Benevolence, Transparency and Profitability. They then asked you to rank on a scale how much you trusted the company and how likely you are to buy from the company. These companies were either in oil and gas, solar or pharmaceuticals.

What I found was that I was willing to purchase from companies where I had a slight degree of mistrust, if they scored significantly higher on ability. (I want my product to work, after all.) I was also less forgiving of pharmaceutical companies with ability. In my mind they have a smaller margin for error.

I also found that profit made a difference. If a company scored well but was not making at least some reasonable level of profit, I questioned their sustainability so I was reluctant to make an investment. That said, if they scored high in ability, integrity and others and were getting a C or better in profitability my trust was higher. I felt that profit was not the driving force so I could trust that they had my interests at heart.

Bottom line for me was that trust plays a significant role in my purchasing decisions up to a point. (I am not sure how I feel about that yet.) And while trust is important, utility also matters. I can trust someone and then recognize that they are inept at delivering the utility I need. In which case I search and select the next best alternative.

Does trust play a role in your buying decisions?

Are you willing to pay a premium for trust?

In addition to your good will are you keeping abilities sharp?

One Comment:

  1. Interesting take on the trust issue. I believe trust is critically important in relationships, whether it be business or personal. But gaining my trust in one area may not automatically translate to another. For example, I trust my wife explicitly. And without question my trust in her is well placed and well founded. But suppose I needed some internet work done, and she was available and willing to do it. Would I still trust her with it? Understand that my wife is not computer savvy and often struggles with what I consider to be routine issues. She has 15 different toolbars at the top of her internet browser because every time she loads new software and the box pops up to add another add-in, she doesn’t know that she can refuse. At one point her computer virtually stopped running because she had 3 different virus protection programs running at the same time.

    So while I trust my wife explicitly with most things, that trust does not automatically extend to ALL areas of her or my life. In addition to trust there is a need for ability and experience to fully round out my decision making process.

    Thanks for the thoughtful article.

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