Tuesday, March 19, 2013

America's Most Trustworthy Companies

Image courtesy of janmennens
Trust in business is an important concept. I've written about it a few times in the past, so imagine my curiosity when Forbes published their list of America's 100 Most Trustworthy Companies yesterday

Apparently this isn't the first year for this list, but it's the first time I've seen it - or perhaps the first time I've taken note of it. I decided to dig in to find out how 100 companies landed at the top of this list.

What exactly qualifies these companies as the most trustworthy?

Since you're reading a blog about customer experience, you know where my thoughts will go in terms of qualifications. But let's see what Forbes and GMI Ratings, the company behind the rankings, used to compile this list.

The first paragraph of the article states that, despite the fact that investors have lost faith in a lot of corporations, "many corporations are models of openness and integrity."O really?

Here's what the rankings are based on:
  • 60 different governance and forensic accounting measures
  • accounting transparency
  • lowest incidence of high-risk events
  • appropriate board supervision
In a nutshell, they say the ratings are based on the quality of corporate accounting and management practices.

I can't argue with "transparent and conservative accounting practices and solid corporate governance and management," as the article notes.  I've written about transparency before, so I'm on board with its importance in any organization. But I think transparent companies are open about more than just their financials; they're also open about policies, pricing, support, social responsibility, products and product issues, hiring practices, and more.

Without a doubt, trustworthy companies should...
  • be transparent with their customers, not just for their shareholders
  • act with integrity not only in their financial practices but also when it comes to their customers and their employees
  • put employees and customers first, ahead of shareholders
  • act in the best interest of their customers and employees
  • be fair, reliable, and ethical in all practices, not just in financial or management practices
  • not take advantage of, or act opportunistically with, customer vulnerabilities 
  • deliver predictable and consistent customer experiences 
Can America's 100 Most Trustworthy Companies qualify for the list based on those criteria? What do you think?

Trust is like the air we breathe. When it’s present, nobody really notices. But when it’s absent, everybody notices. -Warren Buffet


  1. Annette, to be honest I don't really care if a company has sound financial governance. They can be as corrupt as you like.

    What I care about is did they do what they said they were going to do? I don't think there is much cause and effect (any?) between accounting practice and customer service.


    1. James, I think there's a balance. The customer must be in the equation. It seems that the Forbes ranking doesn't care about the customer in that equation, only the financial governance piece, only the stakeholders.

      Interesting piece today in HuffPost, Overcoming the 5 Barriers to Trust (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-horsager/harris-poll-rq_b_2908515.html): "People care about the reputations of the companies they do business with. And one of the biggest drivers of reputation is trust. Just consider the six areas that Harris measured -- social responsibility, emotional appeal, products and services, vision and leadership, financial performance, and workplace environment. To give a company a high ranking in any of these areas requires that we trust them to perform as promised."

      To your point. :-) Do what you say you're going to do.

      Annette :-)

  2. In response to James, I think there is a difference between customer service and customer experience. I might not care how shady a company is when I am looking for support from them, but I DO care about a company's ethics when I am connect with a brand emotionally, which creates long-term loyalty.

    1. I agree, Val. There is a difference. I think the point you're making is what I just noted... there's a balance. It can't be one-sided. We connect with brands for a variety of reasons and they earn our trust across a range of variables, as Harris notes.

      Annette :-)

  3. The old saying is that people want to do business with people they know, they like and they trust. Trust is huge. It creates confidence. Without confidence and trust there will never be loyalty. Be it transparency in business methods or the fact the company always does what it commits to, customers will appreciate and want to do businesses with the trustworthy, confidence-building organizations.

    1. Shep, sorry for the delay in responding. Short and sweet response: well said!

      Annette :-)

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