Can You Build Customer Value without Trust and Transparency?

11 06 2007

Trust Equation

Dennis McDonald posted the following story on his blog, “American Medical Association Operates an Expertise Sharing Network for Physicians – Subscriber based expertise management comes to the medical community.”

It details how the AMA is rolling out a new service based on a subscriber model that permits doctors to exchange knowledge with one another anonymously on cases with the ability to rate postings. The model rewards doctors financially (oh boy, they can afford those new hub cabs for the beemer now) for the quality of posts. Financial investors are also able to access to assess trends for drug development.

The success of such a service depends on protecting the outcomes that the original “poster” and the subsequent “responders” seek from any exchange of knowledge and expertise. The problem with ensuring this online is that systems that permit people to remain anonymous break this critical path.

The opposite should be pursued.

To really make such professional collaboration work you need full disclosure of who the people are that are engaged in “seeking and solving.” Otherwise, the information is of dubious value.

Take for example the InnoCentive model we discussed in earlier posts. While in the early stage of seeker/solver engagement there is some anonymity, the curtain is opened to reveal all participants once the process validates all the solvers participating in the seekers problem solving project.

People are also less likely to participate with someone who is posting anonymously. A lack of transparency begets less trust in what is proposed and by whom. Validation by some objective process is key.

Same would be true if you attended a face to face meeting of people in whom you knew nothing. Are you more or less likely to present your ideas and experience without first some validation of the people with whom you are interacting?

Creating compelling experiences online requires defining the terms of engagement based on trust and transparency, otherwise people will doubt the promised return for their time and experience.

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