BUILDING TRUST BUILDS REPUTATION. A GOOD REPUTATION BUILDS BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT, AND ENSURES YOUR VOICE IS HEARD IN A CRISIS.
Trust matters. When you trust someone, you give them the benefit of the doubt. If that person gets in trouble, you will hear their side of the story before jumping to conclusions.
Companies seek to build the same benefit of the doubt among their stakeholders. Without a strong reputation, companies risk not having a receptive audience for their story when they need one the most.
Globally, people are generally willing to give companies the benefit of the doubt (24% definitely and 48% probably). This willingness to give the benefit of the doubt is tightly linked to overall trust.
Among people who trust a company a great deal, more than half (59%) say they would definitely give that company the benefit of the doubt in a crisis. Among people who are feel neutral toward a company, that percentage shrinks to just 10%.
How benefit of the doubt varies by industry
The imperative to build a strong reputation to get the benefit of the doubt is greatest in high risk sectors. However, EVERY company has risk and can obtain a competitive advantage by building a reputation that they can draw on in times of trouble.
At the industry level, technology companies are much more likely to get the benefit of the doubt than others. Highly regulated industries are viewed more skeptically.
Globally, technology and automotive companies have the strongest reputations and consequently the strongest benefit of the doubt.
Benefit of the doubt and trust are highly correlated. When companies build trust, they are building up benefit of the doubt.
The link between trust and benefit of the doubt are most tightly related at the ends of the spectrum - companies with the best reputation get the most benefit of the doubt, and least trusted companies generate very little benefit of the doubt. Companies in the middle (trust-wise), have more variance when it comes to getting the benefit of the doubt.
Airlines, telecommunications, and oil and gas companies have the greatest challenges.
How benefit of the doubt varies by region
Overall, Europeans are more skeptical of companies, while Latin Americans are more likely to give companies the benefit of the doubt.
Generally, a majority of people in every region say they would “probably” give companies the benefit of the doubt during times of crisis. This likelihood to extend the benefit of the doubt is why it is so important for companies to make sure they react appropriately to crises. An over-reaction due to a few hard-core skeptics can cause more harm than good. Companies need to remember that they generally have the benefit of the doubt and should therefore be forthcoming, rather than defensive.
Skeptical Europeans are a tougher audience than people from other parts of the world.
The impact of regulation on trust and benefit of the doubt
Oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, and telecommunications companies face the greatest amount of regulatory risk, and have the lowest trust and benefit of the doubt scores. While risk is also high for insurance and banking, there is also some evidence of people feeling these industries are over-regulated.
The desire for regulation is highest in Europe and North America, and lowest in APAC.
Methodology: The latest wave of the Ipsos Global Reputation Monitor, conducted in September 2017, measured attitudes of more than 23,000 consumers from 31 countries toward 66 companies across nine industries.