DMA 2012: Extreme Trust and what it means to traditional business models

DMA 2012 opened with a bang today, as Don Peppers (@DonPeppers) spoke around the concept of “extreme trust” and what it will mean to business, particularly as the shift of power moves further and further to a customer-centric model.

While Don spoke through the concept in depth, the key message was derived from the fact that as customer interactions grow exponentially, the more mutual trust is required in order for them to penetrate. In short, customers are more and more filtering information based on trust – think emails and how you decide on which to absorb and which to to condemn with the DELETE key.

Peppers then proceeded to grace the room with his figurative crystal ball, predicting that a number of modern day business models will simply not survive in the extreme trust world. Some of these included:

  1. Credit Cards – a model where the best customers are those who live beyond their means and carry excessive debt/rates
  2. Mobile telecommunication providers – how many customers are really on the right plan for their needs?
  3. Retail banks – debit card’s primary function is to drive overdrafts and the obvious, overdraft fees

To the contrary, Don praised companies such as Amazon and iTunes who build consumer trust through simply not allowing a duplicate purchase – a motive quite obviously in the customer’s interest, despite the potential short-term revenue.

Beyond the immediate moral and engagement benefits, there was an underlying emphasis on measurement and lifetime value throughout. Further to these metrics, Don strongly suggested that within a generation, companies who cannot compete on a trust basis will simply become irrelevant to those who can.

In a world of inflating social influence,  and where company’s no longer have control over cascading sentiments, customers will create the most value for you when you create the most value for them – a point at which will only ever be achieved through trust. What level of trust does you current marketing agenda instate in your customers? Are you selling an old strategy based upon a product-centric model, or on the path toward a customer-centric model which revolves around the holy grail of trust?

To leave you with one of the more memorable of Don’s quotes, when referring to the permanency of anything digital and the legacy it may leave on your brand:

“Dude, you can’t take something bad off the internet, that’s like trying to take pee out of a pool”