Social networking brings an abundance of opinions to today's consumer marketplace. That chorus of voices immediately exposes any wrongdoing on the part of companies. What's more, anything anyone says on the Internet about your company is now immediate, ubiquitous, and permanent. The best defense in such a world is to treat customers right, day after day after day.
According to an Edelman report, 75 percent of survey respondents say they won't do business with a company they don't trust. And now it's no longer enough to be "trustworthy," and simply do what you say you're going to do, as hard as that can be. Instead, you have to examine your business model, your company culture, your capabilities, and make sure you are treating customers the way you'd want to be treated if you were the customer. Don Peppers and I think of this as proactive trustworthiness, or trustability: going out of your way to make sure that the way you make money is based on doing what's best for customers.
Trustability is likely the single most important asset a company has, especially in an era of economic turbulence. Think of it as your secret to success in The Reputation Economy.
How do you earn it? You'll need two things: good intentions and competence. You'll need to act in the genuine best interests of your customers, even when they are not paying attention, and you'll need the capabilities to be able to do what you say you're going to do - to execute well and not make mistakes. In other words: Do things right, and do the right thing.