Trust: Don’t mess with it.

Stephen King, the author and horror specialist, once said that the trust of the innocent is the liar’s most useful tool. We mention that because a survey we conducted at The Security Event suggests that our sector also relies heavily on trust. It’s a major part of the locksmith’s toolbox, an essential for all architectural ironmongers and is key to a great customer relationship. That’s why it’s worrying to also find survey results which suggest an alarming number of those in the industry may not be taking as much care of this critical business asset as they should.

In our survey, we deliberately set out to ask some provocative questions. The issue of trust was first raised when we asked whether hardware security buyers understand enough about the products they are sourcing.

Around one-third of those questioned answered in the positive, but the remainder gave responses which varied from a definite ‘no’ to several which said buyers simply put their trust in the supplier to deliver what they need.

Two issues are raised by this:

1)     The low level of understanding within the customer base

2)     The fundamental importance of the supplier’s own integrity and knowledge.

Within the industry, it’s easy to throw jargon around and assume that your message is getting through, but most buyers don’t have the specialist knowledge required to make informed decisions. All professionals in this industry need to find ways to enhance understanding and not rely solely on their ‘expert’ status.

Our second question was, “Quality, accreditations, price or brand name? What is it that seals the deal?”

Quality was the firm favourite, cited by 57 per cent of those questioned. 26 per cent favoured accreditations, and in an apparent contradiction to the resounding endorsement of trust, only 14 per cent said that the brand was the deciding factor with just 3 per cent mentioning the supplier relationship. Although we’re encouraged by the endorsement of quality and high standards, we’re still somewhat perplexed that no-one mentioned price as a deciding factor in a purchase.

In this report of our survey findings, we’ve deliberately left the most controversial question until last. Although the other two questions give plenty of food for thought, this one is ringing the alarm bells. When we asked whether respondents would promote a product that was easy to work with and had great aesthetics even if its security wasn’t up to scratch, 37 per cent said that they would.

Now we’ll admit that we didn’t add complexity to the question by examining differing levels of security required. But we did make it plain that the ease of use and appearance were the product’s benefits.

Let’s go back to that finding. At a key event for the security trade, over one-third of those attendees who answered our question were prepared to promote products which conferred inadequate protection.

Hopefully, it’s not just us who sees the contradiction. Around two-thirds of buyers rely on and trust their supplier, but over one-third of those suppliers are prioritising their own convenience or selling something based on its aesthetics, not its performance.

Going back to that quote from Stephen King, we’re not saying that anyone is being lied to. We are, however, highlighting the fact that many buyers are ‘innocents’ when it comes to security products. They trust the industry and it will be a real horror story for everyone involved if that trust is eroded.

We’d like to thank all those who participated in our survey for their cooperation and for their frank responses to our challenging questions.