What is trust?


In a previous blog, I discussed the nature of insurance in terms of how well consumers are able to evaluate the service provided by brokers.


Insurance, especially the more complex commercial environment, is not easy to evaluate. Unless a business owner has a background in commercial insurance, they have no way of telling how well their broker is doing their job. They have to go on good faith, or trust.

The marketing world has been a buzz for years about building trust. Trust, it seems, is the linchpin to solid customer relationships. And solid customer relationships lead to higher revenues. But what is trust? How do we define trust? 

Interestingly, trust isn't a singular concept. Rather, it is a multi-faceted construct based on three different factors. The following is an excerpt from our eBook, The Customer Satisfaction Trap, which details how trust impacts customer relationships:

What Is Trust?

Trust is defined as a, “willingness to rely on an exchange partner in whom one has confidence.” It is a multi-faceted construct, comprised of 3 factors: ability, reliability, and benevolence.


Ability is defined as the level of competency in completing a task or job. In terms of insureds, ability refers to the expectation that a job, like providing insurance or risk management advice, will be completed to the highest possible standard.


Reliability is being able to consistently and repeatedly complete a task. Reliability is the expectation that a consumer will consistently receive the same level of service, visit after visit.


Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of trust, benevolence is the act of placing the needs of your customer first; to look out for the well-being of the other party involved in a transaction. Though it is understood that in an exchange both parties will need to benefit, benevolence is making a customer feel as though you are looking out for their best interests.

Essentially, you're going to be trustworthy when you are perceived to competently do what you're supposed to do (ability), time after time (reliablity), and in the best interest of the customer (benevolence). 

And this is the challenge for every producer, sales person, and brokerage owner: how do you build trust with your customers? More importantly, how do you build trust with those prospects who have yet to work with you?

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