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The “once upon a time” story of trust from fairytales to modern life.

Words and interview by Nguyen Minh Phuc (s3394135)

I’m sure nearly everyone who went through their wonderful childhood has ever heard about the bedtime story of a mermaid falling in love with a prince and they live happily forever after. It is a Disney Channel movie named “The little mermaid”. In order to get into the surface and seek for her true love, Ariel the mermaid exchanges her beautiful voice for becoming a human for three days to Ursula, the evil mermaid witch with the belief that the witch would only use it for the harmless purposes. However, things turn out to be not very good when Ursula use this contract to trick Ariel’s father, who is the king of the ocean and plans to revenge and rules the sea.

Now, I guess you are wondering why I spend a lot of words to tell this story. Well, it is to show that in term of business, some bad agencies can take advantage of the vague contracts as well as clients’ trust for their own benefits. This could lead to the problem that “clients started to become more and more suspicious and hard to put faith on other agencies, especially when it comes to important deals” as Mr. Jerry Thach, my interviewee said. He is currently working as Vietnam project manager at Cloud 9 production, a company specializes in producing short films. With five years of experience in working with various clients, he will talk about many kinds of trust as well as the brief way to gain and regain it.

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Figure 1: Mr. Jerry Thach, Project Manager at Clould 9 Production (photo provided by interviewee)

Long term versus short term trust.

Trust obviously is very important since it is the foundation of every relationship. In term of business, the bond between employers and employees within a firm as well as business man with others is built and maintained by trust. In fact, without it, the whole economic system would collapse and never be able to develop itself (Shapiro, Sheppard & Charaskin 1992).

In the interview, Mr. Jerry mentioned that there consists short term and long term trust. Asides from knowing client to identify the right target audience, he noticed that: “Short term trust is similar to first impression while long term one appears after time of working and having faith with your counterparts”. Without short term trust, known as first impression, agency will never be able to establish further relationships (Hall 2009).

Mr. Jerry pointed out that the key to gain impression in this situation is to be able to control your agency’s information and images toward public as well as your clients. “Inexperienced agencies often let their negative information and rumor spread out freely in the Internet and media devices; therefore, from the beginning, due to the underestimation of media power, they have failed to keep and obtain clients’ trust “.

“And it’s even harder to maintain trust”, my interviewee shared, “Once you got the faith of client, it’s crucial to develop it in order to achieve long term trust”. In this state, what agencies do, commit, promise and agree with their clients will determine the relationships. An agency that put effort on their clients’ request and achieve elements such as: timeliness, efficiency, the ability to go through obstacles and get the committed result would have a higher chance to be long-term trusted by their customers. Significantly, being proactive, anticipating clients’ need and actively respond to it will help the agency have a better outcome (Beverland, Farrelly & Woodhatch 2007).

Image

Figure 2: Reproduced from Mick (2012)

Affective trust and cognitive trust.

As Mr. Jerry mentioned about affective and cognitive trust, I was very surprised. I didn’t expect to hear such a deep analysis comes from him, it was an exciting experience. My interviewee calls affective trust as the emotional trust which does not depend on consciousness of human mind. I found two authors which support his statement: Webber and Klinmoski (2004) where they claimed that it relies on emotional bond between people and people without further requirements. The second type is cognitive trust, in which characteristics, knowledge and other elements come from people personal lives and education background can affect their decision. It also called condition trust. Mr. Jerry explained that these two factors are similar to long term and short term trust; however, these kinds of trust is very difficult to identify and measure as they are in different level in each individual. He also said that affective trust and cognitive trust always come together in almost every relationship, even though sometimes one will take the priority toward other.

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Figure 3: Mr. Jerry with Mr.Hung Cuu Long, CEO – Owner of Cuu Long Jewelry (photo provided by interviewee)

Say “no” to clients:  the two-edged knife.

“An agency has its own ability and cannot always meet the clients’ demands;” my interviewee stated, “therefore, saying no to them is inevitable.” He also shared that in this case, what agency should do is being honest, admit that the company cannot fulfill it, explain about the strong aspects of the agency and provide possible solutions. Nevertheless, it is “two-edged knife”. When agency is honest to their clients, either they would feel a bit uncomfortable but still trust agency or might judge the ineffectiveness of this firm and decide to stop working with them.

Trust: hard to build, easy to destroy and extremely hard to rebuild.

“Trust always exists”, Mr. Jerry stated at the end of the interview, “it just constantly change the way it functions.” With seven years of working and five years as manager for many companies, through Mr. Jerry’s experiences, he provided me with three points that a client managers should know. They are prestige, personality and personal background. “Prestige and personal background allow client to know little about you when they decided to approach their counterpart. From these, you create credibility to make your client feel comfort and secure.” However, according to my interviewee, the manager’s personality turns out to be the most important element. “You cannot always talk about business. Going out, having fun, showing that you also want to be more than a business partner with client. Remember their birthday, sing some songs. Clients are human too, they will appreciate your effort and even though you might not have a contract with them, they will still have a good impression on you. And that is when trust started to emerge.”

One of the fastest ways to lose trust is to provide “inconsistent messages” (Galford & Drapeau 2003). As mentioned in the previous paragraphs, agencies must strive to complete clients’ requests as well as keeping their commitments. Mr. Jerry emphasized that in order to regain trust, “we should clearly identify the situation as well as understand the nature of problem.” From that, agency must provide a solution to solve the issue. “But first, whether how hard it is, agency must admit their failure and show the will to fix the problem to the client.” Clients only give only one change, it is the job for agencies to take advantage of it. Mr. Jerry suddenly stopped and after a while, he smiled and concluded that “And maybe, after showing the honesty to fix the problem, clients would put greater faith on you, but it is more fragile like a mirror that reflects yourself.”

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Figure 4: Poof of Life (taken by Hieu Tran)

Word count: 1147

 

References:

Beverland, M, Farrelly, F & Woodhatch, Z 2007, “Exploring the Dimensions of Proactivity within Advertising Agency-Client Relationships”, Journal of Advertising, vol. 36, no. 4, pp.49-60.

Galford R & Drapeau AS 2003,’The Enemies of Trust’, Harvard Business Review, Ferbruary, pp.88-95.

Galford R & Drapeau AS 2003,’The Enemies of Trust’, Harvard Business Review, Ferbruary, pp.88-95.

Hall, M 2009, Soft skills at work: First impression may be the last impression, if you aren’t careful, Annapolis, United States, Annapolis.

Mick, C 2012, ‘Trust Flow in SEO’, image, viewed 22 August 2013, <http://searchfactory.com.au/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/shutterstock_65871343.jpg>

Shapiro DL, Sheppard BH & Cheraskin L 1992, ’Business on a Handshake’, Negotiation Journal, October, pp. 365-377.

Webber SS & Klimoski RJ 2004, ‘Client–project manager engagements, trust, and loyalty’, Journal of Organizational Behavior, vol. 25, pp. 997-1013.

 

 

 

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8 thoughts on “The “once upon a time” story of trust from fairytales to modern life.

  1. Overall, the flow could be better. Insights are quite general, it read more of an academic literature review. More focus could have been given to the insights and actual examples of the interviewee.

  2. This paragraph is better suited to go next to the example of saying “no” as you already state in the paragraph before: ““Trust always exists”, Mr. Jerry stated at the end of the interview…”

    ‘One of the fastest ways to lose trust is to provide “inconsistent messages” (Galford & Drapeau 2003). As mentioned in the previous paragraphs,…’

  3. It’s a bit confusing how you phrase/ link your interviewee’s ideas with academic resources. Make the distinction, which comes originally from the interviewee, and is the quote you provide after a contradiction or confirmation of his point.

    You do this vague connection prior to these statement, etc.:
    “In fact, without it, the whole economic system would collapse and never be able to develop itself (Shapiro, Sheppard & Charaskin 1992).”

    This is a better transition, when you say this:
    “My interviewee calls affective trust as the emotional trust which does not depend on consciousness of human mind. I found two authors which support his statement: Webber and Klinmoski (2004)…”

  4. Thank you Mel C :), did my category and entry meet your requirements in the Google Mail?

  5. nice, the first entry this semester. looking forward to reading and marking this blog and all the rest 🙂

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