kei’s notes

Transparency can but not always help establish trust

In customer service and product development, transparency can externalise status and difficulties from the provider’s end and bring them to customers’ understanding. This can help dissolve their doubts and reinforces the approachable/human image. Sometimes, being open and transparent to customers/users can even turn dissatisfaction into helpful collaboration (e.g. via helpful, constructive feedback), fortify the trust, and hence the relationship.

  • Treat users as equal. Do not push back or hide their requests right away if they are not in line with your product development. Instead, show them what else you are building, ask them for their feedback. They may understand. Or they may not but will give you feedback why you should not keep working on your ongoing piority. And that’s what you want know (Yamashita).
  • This utilises customer contact as a magnet to extract blind spots and up-level your philosophy.
  • This is also a good way to build a bit trust and up-level user loyalty.
  • For some users, when they choose a product, apart from just the features, they also base their decision on your philosophy or vision.

Accountability (i.e. clearing out responsibilities) can, to a certain extent, be part of the factors which affect trust bond establishment (but not always). This helps clear out uncertainty and minimise the perception of risk (by rounding the picture favourable for trust leap) (Kahneman; ch. 19).
==> [Trust is weaken when beliefs are shaken]

Exposing legal terms & conditions of service agreement does not really attract attention of the signee. This may be owing to the mismatch of interest, or the inability to digest the jargons.

  • Despite consent written in the Terms & Conditions of Facebook, social emotion research on News Feed still stirred uproar of mass users and has been considered as a major trust breach of the century because people trusted in Facebook and its use of algorithms; they had trust in Facebook that it would not treat them in this way as guinea pigs or laboratory rats (Botsman; ch. 4).

Informed transparency can help boost trustworthiness and earn (and sustain) trust. But trust is not necessarily given out on the basis of trustworthiness and transparency.

  • Mozilla provides information to users on trust leap action points so as to guide them through their informed decision-making. This brings transparency to the user, boost Mozilla’s trustworthiness (regardless of their final choice on data collection consent), and eventually may help earn their trust (in providing user data).

  • Trading on the Dark Web is another example of making use of transparency to make trustworthiness tangible. Through collective review and qualitative experience sharing, people can become informed of trade procedures. Expectation can be set together with trustworthiness, subsequently translating it into trust leap and deals.
    ==> [Trust is different from trustworthiness]
    ==> [Trust is the basic unit of human connection]


  • Is convenience too often overvalued as advantage?
    • New technology enables trust leap but can also introduce new ‘risky’ behaviour. We do not always know the limit and the far-reaching effects of the powerful technology which we create; nor do we know how to regulate it right away (but rather and only through time and gradual revision loop).

Last update: 2020-08-08


Botsman, Rachel. Who Can You Trust? How Technology Brought Us Together and Why It Might Drive Us Apart. Perseus Books, 2017.

Kahneman, Daniel. Thinking, Fast and Slow. 1st ed., Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011.

Yamashita, Yuhki. What’s Next After Product-Market Fit?. Figma, 29 July 2020,

Transparency can but not always help establish trust