Nurturing business trust amidst India’s growing trust deficit

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By Punit Kapoor

The world is suffering from a growing trust deficit disorder. It has afflicted all social strata -individuals, businesses, vendors, partners, governments, nations, and international organizations. And, the gaps are widening with the novelty of challenges posed by the pervasive digital disruptions all around us.

India, the world’s third-largest economy by purchasing power parity (PPP), is no stranger to this emerging trust deficit. From regulation, airlines to healthcare – the whole economy is bearing the brunt of the growing thrust deficit and vendors are just wondering- which way they can go from here? Recent onset of GDPR and data protection bill has only added fuel to the fire, giving rise to privacy fears and shaking the confidence levels even further.

Business leaders are also worried that heightened concerns about privacy, data security and surveillance are affecting their reputations and their ability to do business in a digital economy driven by the friction-less exchange of data. What’s most worrying is that this prevailing atmosphere of mistrust is putting the economy on a setback and stunting the growth.

In the world where change is the new constant, businesses are failing to understand that the secret sauce behind any success is still rooted in symbiotic relationships, based on mutual respect and trust. Human factor is core to the success of any business. More so, as businesses are not just business but all about ‘relationship and rapport’ that defines return on investment. Through regular, meaningful dialogue, businesses can seed that trust and in turn foster goodwill and support.

As India moves ahead with its grand goal of becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2024, trust will play a key role in this transformation propelling the nation into a thriving digital-first economy. Trust between individuals, institutions private and public entities forms the crux of building an inclusive, trustworthy and sustainable data driven society. For sure, trust is the ultimate currency of a thriving economy and offers a solid foundation for driving growth, fostering rapid innovations, and strengthening the nation’s journey into an inclusive future.

The entire ecosystem must work together and embrace open collaboration, rooted in trust, to achieve a purpose-led digital growth. The way we infuse trust into our relationship will determine the magnitude of benefits we can realize. In the face of changing macro-economic and technology factors, it’s also imperative for vendors and distributors to reimagine not just their product and service offering, but the ‘relationship’ itself, which can make, or break, a strong business relationship in this lucrative economy.

Start with a compelling offering
For vendors, the first component for success is a robust product or service that can be easily delivered to partners. Great functionality and unique selling points (USPs), offered at a competitive price point, gives partners a compelling reason to invest in a long-term relationship with the vendor, ultimately passing on the benefits to customers.

It’s also important to be cognisant of changing customer needs in the country and adapt products and services accordingly. It’s very clear that the way customers are consuming services is changing. Cheap internet accessibility and rising internet penetration especially in rural areas of India is leading to an increase in data production. So adapting a data strategy that helps to tune in to needs of end users and tailoring your offering so that partners can meet consumers’ needs, shows an understanding of the market and its constant evolution. This will immediately build trust and goodwill between vendor and partner.

Follow through with strong delivery
The product establishes the relationship, but great support gives it longevity. Sharing expertise around unique features and benefits will empower a partner to succinctly pass this knowledge onto customers, showcasing how they apply specifically to them. This flow of information from vendor, to partner to customer, benefits everyone.

Whether that is ongoing support from a maintenance point of view or pre-sales technical support and assistance within the sales cycle itself, vendors should offer support at every stage. An excellent product with dreadful service or an average product with great service are both doomed to fail. The key is to look at the entire picture and identify how a good product that solves a real need is combined with great service to maximise adoption.

Keep it simple
Technology is intended to simplify our lives, but more often than not, it does the exact opposite. The same can apply to the relationship between vendor and partner. Cumbersome help desk services or complicated product and service manuals can quickly be the undoing of any trust that has been carefully nurtured.

Vendors who address queries and problem-solving through a central point of access, like the Commvault Partner Service Desk (which prioritises speed of response and accuracy to enquiries), make it very easy for partners to help their end-users. It should never have to be a matter of ‘who you know’ in order to get the information that’s needed. Vendors who keep support processes as easy and streamlined as possible automatically inspire trust and collaboration.

In it for the long-haul
The digital evolution in India is giving rise to a deluge of business opportunities. Considering that the choice in vendors with who to partner is ever expanding, trust is at an all-time premium. Vendors committed to learning about what makes their partners tick, their challenges, buying policies, culture and regulatory constraints, will be far ahead of the curve. This will enable them to invest in mutually beneficial partnerships that operate on competence, reliability, integrity and continuous dialogue.

The ultimate proof of a successful vendor and partner relationship is when one can treat the other as part of the respective teams, giving them time and space to solve issues, and showing an interest in one another’s success. Such relationships are always at their best, when vendor and partner are both pushing in the same direction, supported by a solid foundation of trust which can inspire collaboration, decision-making, execution, accountability and performance.

(The author is the Director – Channels & Distribution, India & SAARC, Commvault)

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