There is a certain distrust most educators have for-profit companies. I know many people who lead or work for those companies, and the vast majority of them subscribe to the same principle I do: “No one goes into education to get rich. We all go into education to make a difference, and we all also have to earn a living.”
Dan Ariely points out that trust is easier to establish between individuals than between an individual and a company. But there are some tried and true methods that companies can use to build trust. In his article, The trust factory, he offers the following advice for these companies.
Recognize and reward longstanding customers, especially programs that have no immediate benefit to the company. Establishing long term relationships increases trust.
Increase transparency by encouraging all feedback, publicly admit mistakes and the steps you are taking to correct them, and explain the thinking behind controversial or unpopular company policies. Stakeholders are more likely to be trusting when they feel the organization is forthcoming.
Explain intentions, like the rationale behind retiring certain product features, how certain actions come from sharing the same values as educators, or how certain policies or laws dictate how the company operates. Insights into company reasoning help build trust and also increase transparency.
Allow educators recourse, like online tools so educators can comment on and criticize products, offers of free products or services for dissatisfied educators, and the ability to talk to someone with a complaint. Knowing that one can make a company suffer when it doesn’t deliver makes us all more willing to take a risk. For more on this subject, watch the video.
Demonstrate common goals: encourage sales people to recommend options that help the educator but which may be less profitable, provide an easy way for educators to compare a product with a competitive one, and sometimes even recommend a competitor’s product. A company might want to sponsor professional development, like Edchat Interactive, for educators as a way to demonstrate commitment to advancing learning. Sacrificing short term income for the benefit of the educator is an incredibly powerful act.
Ariely points out; businesses depend on the trust of their customers to survive. “The ability to create and nourish trust is open to all companies, and many should do more to minimize their image as a faceless giant working against helpless individual customers.”