The move away from face-to-face contact is damaging trust in the delivery of professional services, not technology.
Trust is critical in business and professional relationships and combining new technology with face-to-face relationships can help improve trust.
These are key findings of a new report, The future of trust, commissioned by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ), based on two separate surveys by CA ANZ and market research firm Edelman Intelligence.
The first survey interviewed 1,500 respondents from Australia and New Zealand. The second comprised approximately 1,000 financial decision makers from professional organisations across Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
The findings reveal high-end trust relationships in businesses ultimately lead to increased revenue and lower costs overall. On top of this, businesses with relationships built on trust are linked with increased employee commitment and lower turnover.
The CA ANZ survey shows doctors are regarded as the most trustworthy professionals, followed by teachers, engineers and accountants. More than three quarters of respondents said they had higher levels of trust in an accountant who is a member of a professional accounting body.
Geraldine Magarey, Thought Leadership & Research Leader for CA ANZ, says face-to-face communication is vital when developing trust in professional relationships.
The report highlights that it is not the shift towards increased use of technology that is damaging trust in the delivery of professional services, but the accompanying move away from face-to-face contact.
The report quotes James Sharpe, Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School, saying: “People and organisations with high trust enjoy tremendous support and success. When trust is present, customers are loyal, innovation prospers, and people are motivated.”
The report recognises that honesty and ethical behaviour are key to gaining trust in all relationships. This means that business organisations need to clearly communicate their values and commitment to honesty and integrity to their stakeholders, including their own employees.