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Trust and the gig economy – Gary Bramall, CMO, mytaxi

Posted on: Friday 3rd of November 2017

In the first of a series of guest blogs ahead of PIE 2017, Gary Bramall, CMO, mytaxi, looks at the impact of trust in the gig economy. You can hear more from mytaxi at PIE2017.

It can be easy to assume that some gig economy businesses have no interest in ‘trust’, that trust can be thrown away in the pursuit of greater efficiency and profit. However such an approach is wrong-headed, the gig economy is reliant on trust and companies who don’t value it will be undermined. This is a topic that I will be speaking on at PIE, the UK’s leading personal information event, on November 6th.

Trust is earned when actions meet words. At mytaxi, we operate by a code of ‘constructive disruption’. This means that we pay our taxes. We respect that our drivers choose to be self-employed, and so do not expect to have the same demands made of them as employees. Yes, we embrace the future, but we do not slash and burn the foundations of sensible, sustainable business.

This is not just to feel good, it also makes commercial sense. There will always be people that head for the cheapest price and be damned the consequences, however we believe that most consumers also consider the ethics and actions of a brand. For instance, diesel car sales have fallen dramatically following the 2015 emissions scandal as people rapidly lost trust in the product and its future.

Social media has empowered the modern consumer. It has turned them into a media outlet, meaning that one bad experience becomes magnified as a Tweet or status is shared around the world. Rather than just lose one customer, a poor experience can smash a brand’s wider trust. This places an even higher premium on actions and behaviour, since a single misstep can quickly escalate and even become fatal for a fledgling company.

This all happens in ‘gig time’ as digital data carries at the speed of light, meaning that brands have little time to manage or prepare for a crisis. In the old world, we could at least brace ourselves for tomorrow’s headline. Today, a crisis can trend while you’ve been at lunch. We all live and die by the sword, making our actions all the more important.

However social media is not only dangerous during a crisis. Too many brands erode their trust over time through poor marketing communications, invading people’s timelines and feeds with low quality paid advertising. Companies that enter the gig economy are supposed to be accompaniments to everyday life, they are meant to be brands that make the consumer journey more convenient. However intrusive marketing communications invade peoples’ timelines, rapidly undermining trust.

Importantly, the gig economy is lowering barriers to entry and increasing choice. Consumers have a wealth options at their fingertips, whereas once they were far more limited. This means that brands only have a few ways of differentiating themselves and standing out in a crowded market, with trust being arguably the most important differentiator. The gig economy is only increasing trust’s value.

To thrive in a world that is becoming evermore digital and open, brands will have to make a real commitment to building trusting relationships with consumers. To do this, they need to act in a way that benefits their consumers, people and society, not just their bottom line.