We now live in an era of consumer distrust, which is influencing some of our lifestyle choices, some psychologists tell us.  Many of us now question others’ motives before making decisions for ourselves.  Two examples are the lengths we go to protect our privacy and the decisions we make concerning our health and well-being. Against this backdrop, service providers and service designers should consider this clarion call to take great care building consumer trust.

Actual measures of consumer distrust couldn’t be located. While there are measures of consumer confidence and measures of consumer behavior—which are independent of each other—any correlation with distrust is unclear.

I stumbled on the idea of consumer distrust from reviewing several recent brand loyalty studies. Those reports attributed consumer distrust to a host of issues but namely conflicting government agency policies and directives, blatant lies by national leaders, false advertising claims, and social media and news outlets with polarizing viewpoints. To wit, look no further for than the global responses to the Covid-19 epidemic.

Through these reports, meanwhile, are pointers that service designers can use to foster greater trust and loyalty.

  • Personify services: Attribute the responsibilities for the line of service to a single individual; this person should be someone whose name is used throughout the service, including user communications.
  • Reduce or eliminate advertising: Consumers are less likely to be influenced by advertising due to distrust; this is partly exacerbated by the number of irrelevant ads bombarding consumers.
  • Convey honesty and reliability: Promises of an outcome are only reputable when they materialize consistently and reliably.
  • Fix services: All services fail from time to time.  Service providers need awareness when services go off the rails. Some 88 percent of companies are using journey mapping and other methods to find and fix these problems right away.
  • Serve Niche Markets: It is easier to build trust by appealing to smaller targets.  Using personas will help to identify specific target interests.

For more information on consumer distrust and reports, see:

This article has been contributed by ISDI, a service design professional development organization offering service designers online courses, books, certifications, workshops, and surveys.