Customer Trust Equation

Business is all about people. So, what are people passionate or keen about? Trust. Neither businesses nor relationships would stand their ground if there was no constant trust.


The calculative way to measure trust is the Trust Equation. Founded and written in a book named “The Trusted Advisor” by three Harvard University Professors. As a matter of fact, their findings are now universally accepted as the Trust Model.

The Trust Equation considers four factors: Credibility, Reliability, Intimacy, and Self-Orientation. All four play an inevitable role in this equation. The Trust Equation is calculated by adding the Credibility, Intimacy, and Reliability in the numerator and placing Self-Orientation in the denominator.

So, what is trust all about? Why does the factor of trust make its way here? Is it indispensable that businesses bring trust to their customers? Of course, it’s inevitable. We don’t usually ask, “Do you trust me?” with our customers like we would in a relationship. Instead, we do it in a calculative way: The Trust Equation.

Earning trust among your customers may look like a short-term goal, but it isn’t. The amount of effort required to keep your bars in place is immense, but it yields a better result in the long-term relationships you have with your customers.


Customer Trust Equation Formula

Take a look at the Customer Trust Equation Formula,


It is evident that the variables of Credibility, Reliability, and Intimacy have to be higher than Self-Orientation for your business to maintain trust with your customers.


Variables in Customer Trust Equation

As we are now aware of the four main variables in Customer Trust Equation, let’s take a deep dive into those variables to know what they actually mean.


Credibility is about what you speak. Are your words trustworthy? Are you well aware of your area of work? How much expertise do you have in your Business? How do your words drive customers to your business and make a remarkable impact on retaining them?

Credibility with customers begins with the way you communicate with them. Here are a few points to note that help build credibility:

  • Confidence in your work.
  • Knowing customer expectations.
  • Make customers aware of your capabilities.
  • Promising and meeting deadlines.
  • Setting boundaries (if need be).



Reliability is action-oriented. What are the promises you make to your customers? Do you stick to your promises? Are you capable of delivering what you’ve promised? Do you over-deliver? What measures do you take to ensure you don’t under-deliver to your customers?

Answering every question above will conclude whether or not your business is reliability-worthy?

Maintaining reliability requires repeated experiences over time. Make small promises often and make sure to keep them. If there is a miscommunication or over-promise of services, step up immediately and apologise. Set your customers’ expectations high right away.


Though Intimacy in business or with customers may seem odd in the Trust Equation, it has its own importance that brings the trust game to a high point.

Do your customers feel safe and secure interacting with you? When your customer shares personal ups and downs, as well as good and bad days in the workplace, consider that your customer trusts you. After all, Intimacy is a factor of emotional closeness.

The following are a few tips that may help in strengthening your rapport with your customer:

  • Be Vulnerable: Being vulnerable can let your customer be vulnerable as well.
  • React: React to your customer’s conversation and break the ice. This can help them feel at ease, and they might end up telling you what’s bothering them.
  • Get Over Your Fears: Admit when you are unsure about a particular work or job you are doing. Accept your lack of information and reassure the customer that you will get back to them at a specific time with the correct information.

The variables Credibility, Reliability, and Intimacy must be high to maintain your Trust Equation. Make efforts and try communicating and delivering your work on time to keep up the trust game.


A person or business that is more self-oriented tends to scare away those around. This is because self-oriented people are more concentrated on themselves compared to others. While it seems selfish, to consider oneself above others seems nice from one perspective, but it usually does not work out well with the customers.

Here are a few points that might help in being less self-oriented:

  • Be curious and ask questions about your customer’s experience.
  • Stay calm and listen.
  • Show your agenda.
  • Let them know what you are thinking.
  • Try acknowledging questions without taking too much of their time.
  • Respond and report to customers in a short timeframe.



The path to gain trustworthiness from your customers is a long road; however, this effort can help you achieve long-term goals. Proper communication and sticking to your promises help satisfy the Trust Equation and thereby your customers.



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