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“Trust is a two-way, reciprocal relationship,” says Louise Thorpe, chief privacy officer at American Express. “It’s not just about customers trusting the brand. It’s about brands and companies showing that they trust their customers.”

The most effective way to build trust in your brand or your company is to go first, and show customers or consumers that you trust them — and that can take all sorts of forms. You need to be proactive and offer some goodwill from a brand and company perspective. American Express, of course, offers credit, which at its core is the company trusting that customers will pay it back at the end of the day. But there are plenty of different ways to demonstrate to your customer that you’re willing to invest in that trusted relationship, and particularly in a longer-term relationship, Thorpe says.

“It’s particularly difficult, in an online and internet context, to remember that it’s not just a transaction-based relationship,” Thorpe says. “We’re in this for the long haul. We want to be with you through the journey of life, so to speak. How can we demonstrate that at the beginning of the relationship, in order to build trust?”

It sometimes just comes down to being more proactive with your customer service, and really thinking about your business from a customer-centric approach. An example, she says, is reaching out to your customers when the news reports a data breach issue at another company, for instance, and reassuring them that you’ll be monitoring their account with you, and keeping you safe from fraud, rather than waiting for them to contact you, a nervous wreck about their own data.

“Demonstrating that commitment over the longer term, developing that reputation for being a trusted firm, is really important,” she says. “It obviously then becomes a virtuous circle. You have a reputation and a history of being trustworthy, and then you continue to build on that through your actions.”

It also means that when something goes wrong in your own company, you need to be up front, honest, and transparent about it, owning the responsibility for the error, and then doing whatever it takes to make it right.

“Protecting your firm from reputational risks or issues always come back to that customer-centric piece,” she says. “Looking at things through the lens of a customer and thinking about what this would mean to them, how they would feel about it, and whether it was in their best interest.”

Stepping back and looking at the steps you take to preserve your reputation or the business decisions you make that will impact it also needs to be viewed from the lens of the stake holders, Thorpe warns: regulators, shareholders, suppliers, business partners, and more.

“The more rigorous you are about thinking through the impact of whatever you’re doing or proposing, on customers or other stakeholders, the more likely you are to identify those types of reputational risks before they materialize,” she says.

From there, you build that commitment to trust into the DNA of your company, and its culture, your products, and your services, right from the beginning with the why for the customer and how this would impact them.

“Designing it in is really important to building that trust,” Thorpe says, “and getting a reputation as a trusted firm.”

To learn more about how companies like American Express build their customer relationships, how to bake in customer-focused, customer-first experiences that lock in confidence in your company and loyalty from your most valuable clients, and more, don’t miss this VB Live event!

Don’t miss out!

Register for free now. 

Webinar attendees will learn:

  • How to build trust with increasingly savvy consumers
  • Why brand reputation is your most important calling card — and how to protect it
  • The key qualities customers look for in a trusted brand
  • The secrets of the modern customer-focused organization


  • Louise Thorpe, Chief Privacy Officer, American Express
  • Andrew Leede, Product Owner, Blinker
  • Ting Ting Luo, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Docusign
  • Stewart Rogers, Analyst-at-Large, VentureBeat
  • Rachael Brownell, Moderator, VentureBeat

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