People and the Power of Trust: A CES 2019 keynote | Blue Sky

People and the Power of Trust: A CES 2019 keynote

So, I just wanted to talk a little bit today on ‘why do people trust?’ and ‘trusting people’. It’s such a natural, human thing to do, to trust people but equally, mistrust can happen just as quickly. So how do we capitalise on that and what is it that we need to do within organisations to create a culture that allows trust?

Here’s my full keynote at the Customer Engagement Summit 2019, read below for a quick breakdown of what we talked about:

So, 3 things that you’re typically facing at the minute:

  • The world is changing, something’s going differently, maybe customers are demanding more, maybe you feel like the speed that you can change is not as quick as your competitions or you’re not sure what your customers actually want…
  • You’re changing: mergers, acquisitions… whatever else is going on. Something’s happened in your business, you’re downsizing, anything that’s driving change down to you.
  • The goals have changed, right? You’re chasing something that’s slightly different, your propositions are different, you’re going after a different market or you’re required to deliver higher performance in certain areas.

That’s what’s changed. So those are the things that, typically, we are facing.

We love change, don’t we?

Ok, so it’s a difficult thing to do. To get this within your organisations, it is true that we all have to lead the change. Yep, I do know the feeling.

And, as you’ve heard already, trust has a value. Ok, it’s really important to be aware of this. So says Stephen Covey in 2006 with The Speed of Trust. So says the National British Council in a study done in 2016 across the whole of Europe. 19,000 participants said that people trust the UK, are 2x as likely to do business with us or to come and study here. And so says Simon Sinek in his most recent book. If anybody’s on Linkedin then you might have seen a flurry of Simon Sinek coming through and talking about Performance vs Trust – that’s a brand new thing. And so says Gerry Wisniewski, who we’ve just been hearing about this morning, from Edelman who says there’s a value to trust and we must look for it and do something about that.

It’s in our DNA to change

If we know we’re the most evolved evolved species… it’s clearly in our DNA to change. We’ve changed over time and done that time, and time again. We can do some things that even decades ago would not have even thought were possible.

So, it’s in our DNA to change, yet sometimes it just feels right. One of the things, one of the ingredients, that needs to be true, if we are to create a space for change to happen: is to create the trust that we want, not keep our fingers crossed.

I’m going to talk about 3 main events over the course of the next few minutes just to walk through 3 of, what I believe are, actual actionable points that you can take back to your organisations and use it to take on a whole lot of new change.

  • Firstly, you need a level of clarity. So, it’s really important you’re super clear about what it is that you stand for and what is it you want to achieve.
  • You need to have a climate, a place of safety and that engenders trust. And that’s been true for primates, it’s true for early man and it’s true for the people in your organisation that work for you, right now. They need a place of safety, where they can perform and have high trust in what you have said in your clarity piece.
  • And then you need the code. You need to crack the code of the conversations that need to happen with your customers, day in, day out regardless of what those interactions are. Whether your guys are working in the field, in engineering capacity, or in a field sales capacity; whether they work in contact centres or if they work in retail or if they’re working on social media channels. Whatever it is that you guys are working in, then what you have to do is crack the art and the skill and the science of the conversations that will make a difference and drive trust through to your customers.

We’re talking clarity level from leadership. We’re talking creative ways of showing up to do that amazing work and trust you and will deliver that trust. Then we’ll work with our other skills and actually build that trust across the relevant areas. It will give you one killer action point from each of those 3 areas today.

Craft stories

Alright. So, what we’re going to talk about next, is the craft story piece. It’s really simple and I know it seems really obvious but how many times do we get it wrong?

We need to know what we stand for. What is it that you and your company stand for? What do you want your people to believe you stand for? And what do you want your customers to know about what you stand for? You need that absolute clarity.

To us, it doesn’t matter what words you choose, ethos, mission statements – whatever you want to call it – values,. What you call it, doesn’t matter. What matters is how it proliferates across your organisation. Having it on a plaque or up on the wall isn’t the answer. Or isn’t ‘just it’, right? That doesn’t do the job just by having a plaque on the wall. So, it’s really important to precipitate what it is.

Witness Recounts Man Being Dragged Off Flight, from CNN on YouTube

So, do we think that United Airlines have a plaque on the wall? Do we think that they’ve got values, a mission statement, an ethos, a code of conduct? Of course they do.

Do we honestly think, as much as (you know) they can be the ‘bad guy’ in the airline history, do we really think that anyone sat at the top wanted this to happen? Take aside the fact of the impact on the passenger, for sure, just take that aside. Did they actually want anybody  to  drag somebody off the  plane, I don’t think that was in the training manual, anywhere. Right? What happens is you get different messages, things get lost on the way down. There’s loads of instances like this where it’s important. Ok and I get it, it’s important. If we don’t do things right in airlines, in medicine, in gas installations, really bad s*** can happen. Things blow up. People die, that can happen. Right?

This guy, the doctor on the plane, was not creating a life endangering situation for those on the plane. We have to be able to distinguish within our ethos what is the difference between something that is going to make a difference to people’s lives, in terms of keeping  people safe, and actually what is service? Right? It’s pretty hard for an air stewardess, through service, to actually kill someone. You know, I don’t think you can do a lot of damage to someone with a 50millilitre bottle of Hendricks.

Right? That’s not what makes a difference. What makes a difference, is making it really clear what we stand for and where we’re at. And otherwise, this wouldn’t have happened. You need to make sure that this kind of thing doesn’t happen.

So, you need to think about what is it that you want your people to do? How do you embody it and how you want them to embody it. And the when you talk about it, what is your clear statement and purpose that leads your people on and that people get behind?

Sounds obvious. Yes, we all know this, there’s nothing new here. Yet how come so many businesses, so many companies and so many industries are struggling with that?


Creating a climate

It would be wonderful, wouldn’t it? It would be wonderful if we could train all of our people in every scenario and tell them what to do. Yes? Amazing.

But can we predict every single scenario that can happen? No?

Some people say, “well, actually we’ve done quite a lot of work now Steve. And we can work a lot of that out”. We’ve worked out every permutation possible. Any customer, any area with any solution and  any life cycle can ever have. “Great! Good luck with getting that into a human being’s brain in a short space of time when they just joined the organisations in the last 4 weeks.”

We have to get into a culture code in terms of judgement and making decisions. If we’re really clear about what our message is at the top, they trust us. If we’re really clear, they will all follow. They need to know what it is that they need to do, on a day-to-day basis so they can make judgements on this brand new situation that we put in front of them with the customer today that they’ve never had before, until today. And they made a judgement call on that. So, we need to cultivate their judgement with permission culture.

As customers, have we ever felt like you’ve been in that situation that feels that uncomfortable? Yes? For example, “yes, I know it’s a 5p bag, you’ve been doing that for years now but thank you for telling me”. Ok, if you didn’t know bags were only 5p then I don’t know – where have you been? You know, all that stuff.

So, we need to coach people. This, again, is not a life threatening situation but we get why, in this industry (and I don’t mean to be a downer on the airline industry), it’s just quite an easy  and quite fun one to follow. But there’s just something that we’ve got to do. We need to be super clear about the bookends of an operation. What is acceptable? What isn’t? Are you being clear?

Does that thing happen in your organisation? Do you feel that is something prolific across the UK? It’s not what I  see, it’s not what I see inside organisations, under time pressure what you can see – and your positive critique rather than just saying “please don’t do that”. We see if you made a mistake, it’s not good and it’s coming up again and again. It’s getting us to a place of fear, and they don’t know if they’re doing the right thing and therefore they stick to the rules and eventually, they end up dragging people off planes.

Cracking the conversation code

Ok, last but not least, we’re moving on to conversation of cracking the code. We’re talking service and we’re talking engagement. This is about the conversations we have with our customers and the customer facing in, as I’ve said on many different points.

But this could apply to any, if there are ways of working that are ever skilled or required, within the job regardless of whether it is customer facing or not then the technique and methodology we’re working on which I’ll talk you through these in the third and final section, can be applicable to anything, ok?


So, what we’re talking about here is cracking the code of the conversations. So, while we’re here, we’re going to be focusing on – and we’re not going to focus on how you translate that down, or how you role model it,  or how you build people’s mindsets, or deliver it – what we’re going to focus on is how do you work out what those killer things that make a difference for our customers and their trust of our organisation.  How do we work those out? How do we up it? Because we must be able to up it.

There’s lots of industries and I’m going to do lots of business reports and they’ve got an approach that I call “Hire more Helens”. Helen, Helen is amazing. We love Helen, as soon as she walks through the doors, we all go “ahhhhhh”. And that’s amazing. Right?

The problem is you’ve got over 1000 people in your organisation and there 8000 Helens out there. And the fact you’ve got 1000 Helens is a bit more than enough in my view.

You need Craigs, create more Craigs. Craig is the guy who influenceable, who you can teach the skills that  Helen’s got and quickly enough, Craig will bang out “yes that works for me and I’m going to smash it out the park”.

Right? It’s not “Hire more Helens”. I don’t see this as a recruitment drive to get better people. If you’ve got a 1000 people who aren’t performing, I’m sorry, but I just don’t’ think this is the right strategy. We have 1000 people and if you give them the right input, my strong personal belief is that (having seen it 100 times over), if you give people the right input, you will get the right output.

If there’s 1000 people and 200 people – 5000 people or 20000 people – that are not performing then in my view, you must be doing something wrong. And that must be the start point as a leader. If it’s not, then it’s just not the right thing to do.

So therefore we must be able to crack the code. The whole business should be focussed on what are the things  that actually do give us the skills that we want? How do you… what is Helen doing that we can transfer to Craig? What are the things we’ve been looking for?

First off, I’m going to start off with what it doesn’t look like, ok?

Right, so we’ve actually got in the app, you can get access to one of our boffin articles. And this boffin article is called “The 4 Horsemen and the Apocalypse of Customer Service”.

One of the things that really kills customers. One thing that really drives mistrust in customers and drive them away from us and helps them not get on board with us. I’m not going to go through all those things today. The one simple reason is, I can’t. But I can talk to you about the boffins that build this stuff. Right? So the boffins that build this stuff and I can talk to you about one killer skill that makes a difference: “yes, I can help you”, “yes, you’re through to the right place”.

We’re been talking about 9000 customer interactions with however many years, across 63 organisations. But the one thing was, in 100% of cases were, ‘the only thing I could do’ is present in the conversation got 100% likelihood in customer (dis)satisfaction. Not 95, not 96, 92… if that phrase is in there, 100% likelihood of dissatisfaction. Crazy, right? Just say those words. “The only thing we can do is…” it might not be the only thing we can do, but what are you going to do with that?

Right, but that is not what customers want to hear. How do we flip it? What are we going to do? I am going to answer that question, just not right now.

It’s a thing that we call Safe Hands. It’s this simple, regardless of whether you’re not going to want to be at a customer’s door, or fix something for them, or whether a customer’s ringing you or you’re trying to sell something.

What is sounds like is: “Absolutely yes, I can help you out with that. What was your name? Ok, no problem, let’s get this sorted for you.”.

Easy, yes? Very, very simple. But is it happening?

Think about you as a customer, when you ring people, how do those people leave you feeling? That you’re in safe hands? “You’re through to me and I’m going to look after you, that’s my job. You’re absolutely through to the correct department, let’s do this”. It’s that, right?

If it’s that easy, how come we’re not all doing it?

So, we talked about clarity, we talked about how we set client permissions and coaching judgement, we’ve talked about how do you bottle the skills in conversations that drive performance.

That is it.

And the last thing is, you can only try and get it right. If you don’t get it right, stuff happens.

Trust Fall Fail, CrunchGamer1 on YouTube

Clarity is important, thank you very much!


Get in touch



Blue Sky - Experts in People Change. All rights reserved 2019.

Get in touch

Request a call back to know more about the topics in our blogs, direct from the authors who wrote them.

Fill in the form below and we’ll call you back as soon as we can.

Alternatively, give us a call direct, on 01483 739400

    I have read and accept the Privacy Policy and consent to Blue Sky contacting me about my enquiry

    Get in touch