November 20, 2008
Third-party credibility ain't what it used to be
It used to be that we'd get the Good Housekeeping seal of approval and we'd dine out on that for months, even years to come. There was a time when the JD Power reports on "initial quality" (whatever the hell that really is) would be something that we could build an entire ad campaign around. Many of us can remember that industry certification, award or something similar, like ISO certification, that somehow gave us credibility beyond our wildest dreams.
Those days are quickly showing up more in our corporate rear-view mirrors than in our forward-looking headlights. In fact, I predict that the day where we look on those awards with disdain, or at least indifference, is much closer than most companies would like to think. In fact, the shift from industrial and commercial third-party credibility, established back in the 40's & 50's, as the gold standard for credibility and validation to a much more personal, peer-based standard of validation is happing right under the noses of a majority of companies in all manner of industries.
It's also happening in the financial sector where you have a number of rating agencies that give AAA, AA and other ratings to financial institutions and commercial enterprises that are increasingly "bought and paid for" and "shopped around" rather than earned through objective review and stringent standards.
The currency of credibility in the marketplace has always been customer satisfaction, and customers have always voted with their dollars and their feet. However, the day is nearly here where those customers will completely usurp the power of the ratings firms, award givers and other long-held institutions of credibility.
In a world where customer trust in fleeting and costs real, tangible dollars (according to this excellent post by Ted Mininni), we all need to be on our toes when it comes to building, maintaining and growing the level of trust and credibility that we have with our customers. After all, it's their peer-to-peer third party rating of our company that will be the ultimate in credibility currency for the future.
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