Trust - A game of two halves?
'Trust comes on foot and leaves on horseback'; that famous old Danish proverb has a certain ring to it in the murky world of FIFA this week, as investigations of corruption are spearheaded by the FBI, in scenes more akin to a mobster movie than the world of sport.
Football's governing body FIFA is due to open its annual congress despite warnings from sponsors that they may review ties over the arrest of seven top officials on corruption charges. Visa says it will reassess its sponsorship unless FIFA makes changes. Coca-Cola and Adidas voiced concern. Undoubtedly this will have major financial implications for the game. But at local club level, what does it mean to the customers; the fans themselves who pay religiously to watch their idols regardless of whether they win or lose? Do they associate their teams with the bigger global picture?
As consumers, we are becoming used to and indeed almost 'anaesthetised' to horror stories about every sector of our daily lives from banking, utilities, and most recently the travel industry where the conduct of Thomas Cook with regard to the deaths of children in Corfu has become a major news story. The recent scandal of LIBOR rate fixing resulting in huge fines has received proportionately less reaction amidst the ongoing saga of banking woes.
Interestingly the volume of switching is not nearly so large as we would expect, given the erosion of trust in many large organisations. There are many reasons for this; but one very important factor is the experience customers have with the frontline staff in whichever touch point they are using. Speaking to 'someone like me' seems a world away from the actions of CEO's and unknown non-executives under whose watch so many misdemeanours have taken place.
In the same way as grassroots football is built around passionate management and players commitment, then organisations whose brands have been tarnished have to redouble their efforts in ensuring that trust is rebuilt, experience by experience by passionate staff. This is no mean feat when those same staff are challenged both by customers and also by their own disappointment in the organisation they work for.
But experience shows that by genuinely putting colleagues first and arming them with everything they need to succeed, organisations can start to rebuild trust. Of course in the long term all of these efforts will be futile unless there is demonstrable evidence that things are actually changing at the top.
Regardless of whether it's the game of football or business, fans will only stay fans when they feel they are being listened to and that their views are being acted upon.
All of this calls for a rethink in ways that we represent customer feedback to boards, and in turn how these boards are mandated to act on the voice of customer.
As ever, leadership is key and it takes bravery to challenge the status quo, particularly when performance dashboards show acceptable levels according to the measurements set.