A Publication of WTVP

Last month, the Better Business Bureau released a new report, 5 Gestures of Trust: A New Framework to Evaluate Customer-Business Relationships, which suggests that trust in business boils down to five critical behaviors. These key factors, or “gestures,” make consumers feel respected, which translates into a tendency to trust the brand, company or business.

The five gestures identified in the report:

  1. Be honest. Does it feel like the company tells me what it should be telling me—the information that is important to me in the moment—in a way that makes plain sense to me?
  2. Be transparent. Does the company appear to be willing to disclose information that is important to me, even if it appears to make the company more vulnerable, because it is the right thing to do and is important for me to know? Is this transparency granted as part of a service ethos, rather than because of media or community pressure or customer threat?
  3. Be proactive. Does the company take steps to ensure that I gain as much value from our relationship as possible without my asking them to? Also, does the company go out of its way to respond to legitimate requests or inquires I might make?
  4. Be humble. Does the company appear to believe that its success is due in large part to its customers and the community, and that customers and the community therefore should be treated as true partners in the enterprise, considered with empathy when making company decisions? Ultimately, does the company feel the need to acknowledge me, and show genuine appreciation for my patronage?
  5. Be equitable. Does the company believe it is fair and productive to grant customers power in the relationship and/or transactions, power the company ostensibly could retain for itself should it choose? As when a company is transparent, is this sharing of power granted under the belief that it is the “right thing to do” as part of a service ethos, rather than because of competitive pressures or customer threat?

“Customers demand more from businesses today,” notes the report’s co-author, Craig Honick. “As consumer expectations evolve, especially among younger generations, we see a demand for more than just a smooth financial transaction. To be a better business in today’s marketplace is to see business as a series of ‘human’ transactions. In many cases this might require businesses to be customer-centric, employee-focused, forward-thinking and innovative, as well as environmentally and socially conscious.”

Although customer trust in business is eroding (along with trust in government, institutions, the media, etc.), BBB’s research was conclusive: businesses that see themselves as trusted were more likely to put into practice actions that demonstrate they value their relationships with their customers. These actions included making things right, treating employees well, putting customer service ahead of profits, and even recommending a competitor if that is better for the customer. iBi

Download the full report at