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Country Leader for XpertiseNow USA, Chris McLaren, speaks to us about the importance of trust in business.
Q: What is trust and why is it important in business?
A: Trust is the fundamental pillar of commerce, regardless of whatever you are purchasing. Without trust, commerce can’t happen. The buyer has to trust the seller and the seller has to trust the buyer. And that’s not unique to professional services but here, the stakes are high. That’s what people look for when they look at brands. This is a brand — trust the people, trust what they stand for, trust that they will deliver quality service and quality products.
Q: What level of trust is important for consulting and other professional services?
A: It’s less tangible, or maybe it’s harder to quantify in the professional services market. If you look at some other commercial transactions, there are some clear markers to indicate trust, such as in the pharmaceutical industry where there are strict and recognized trusted authorities. In a consulting organization or a professional services organization, there is no equivalent. You are your track record; you are your reputation. It’s very hard to get that trust, and you can lose it quickly. That’s why professional services take it so seriously, because they acknowledge that there is no hard and fast rule for how you get it and how you keep it.
Q: How does a new brand like XpertiseNow build trust?
A: Well, it takes time. I think the logical starting point is that the brand is the sum of parts of individuals who have joined the brand, whether that’s the founding partners or early-stage executives and new investors. That’s an indicator of the trust. The other part is the consultancies who are on the platform. Beyond that, its statements matter, whether it be its mission statements, its principles, its value proposition. What is this organization standing for? If it has a good purpose and a good intent, then that will build trust. Then there are the actions, the deeds — does this organization do what they say they can do?
Q: Then how do we establish the credibility of the consultancies on the platform?
A: A big part of the value proposition for XpertiseNow now is going to be helping big organizations find specialist consultancy firms that are worthwhile engaging because of their deep expertise or specialism in a certain area. Our role is to not only help the businesses find these boutique consulting firms or professional services firms, but it’s to convey a level of trust. It’s almost through a level of endorsement or conveyed trust that because these firms are on our platform you should take them seriously, and they are worthwhile of your time and your effort and your trust.
Q: Can you explain more about how another dimension of trust is integrity?
A: There are two aspects of integrity. The first one is: do they do good things? Or are they an organization that solves, good problems and solves them in the right way? Do they have the right morals principles and values? The second piece of integrity is to do what you say you’re going to do. If you’re a consulting firm or professional services firm and you say, “Mr Business, I’m going to help you drive some $80 million of improvement on x percentage points,“ do you actually do it? Did I do good things using the right sort of principles, values and morals. Did I operate properly financially, commercially, people-wise, client-wise, community-wise? We are going to look at the way the consultancies operate and collaborate with the clients and that will help us decide whether or not to take them on our platform.
Q: How is XpertiseNow the trusted platform of choice for specialist consultancies?
A: The platform is going to be an enabler of the trust proposition. The key part of the process and integrity is you do what you say you’re going to do. So, if I say I’m going to deliver this project and we’re going to do it on time, on budget, and with the best people, that’s a key part of the platform, enabling the business to be able to do that. And with true collaboration, with two or three boutiques collaborating through the platform, we’ve got the best minds in the room. Those minds are collaborating around a particular client problem, ensuring that we’ve got the best resources, ensuring that we’ve got the best research assistant, ensuring that we’ve got the best methods and tools and insights. All of that comes together to help run a trustworthy platform.