If I were to ask you, right in this moment, to imagine a time you were lied to or deceived, I would be willing to bet money that you have just easily recalled several occasions vividly. The feeling of being deceived cuts deep and oftentimes, we hold onto these emotions, we remember this pain, out of fear and avoidance, so in the future we don't ever have to feel this way again. Of course that isn't how it works, but collectively, most of us do this anyway as a means of protection. We can't let those feelings go out of fear that if we forget them, they may catch us off guard again.
Why Are We Talking About Deception?
We are talking about deception because we live in a society where lying is commonplace and we don't bet on trust. Too many people have been burned in business, as customers, and they are hesitant. This is creating a shift in the foundation of how we will all do business but it's new so plenty of businesses haven't caught on yet. One company has though, and they're focusing their business around a taboo topic plenty of others won't even talk about, honesty.... oh and STD's.
Ashka Shah is the Co-Founder of NeatClub, a dating app that verifies STD status. The app currently offers verification of a person being "neat" or STD-Free but their ultimate objective is to allow STD-matching for those diagnosed with a particular issue as well, which is life-changing for some 110-million people, at any given time in the United States, living with an STD. If that stat doesn't do anything for you, how about this one: According to the CDC, of the 42-million Americans living with herpes, 85% don't even know it.
Drowning Deception In Trust
This shift I referred to, is based on drowning out this culture of deception with a primary objective of designing in trust. This is a principle in life, applying to everything from business to potential partners. We can drown out deception with honesty. We can build better businesses by being open and not only having clarity but turning that into transparency for our customers, or partners, either way. People lie, about business, about STD status, but you don't have to, even though it does seem the easier solution to the difficult task of launching in this uber-competitive business landscape.
How do you build trust enough to gain your early adopters?
This is an extra special problem, because trust is a design problem. It is difficult to build, grows only with time, and can be especially fleeting when starting any brand, product, app or business. Some go for cool tech and bells and whistles that you must have; AirBNB did this by attempting to treat the homeowners as highly valued and respected business partners; and Ashka is doing this by allowing the verification on her platform but dating to be done on any or all of the site initially.
But also by building trustworthy platforms around verifiable and non-biased data, processes promoting transparency, and putting the customer/user in control - this is also how we can design in trust. Not by creating dishonest dependency, but by providing awareness and a choice.
I could insert a cheeky joke about a cheesy used car salesman but deception isn't really funny, neither is sexual health, or untrustworthy business practices. So here's my business trend prediction: This is the business market of the future. It's trust or bust.