San Francisco Giants Build “Trust” With Fans

Trust is important in any relationship.

Without trust, it’s difficult to move forward. It’s difficult to know where you stand with the other person.

SF Rookie Pitcher: Madison Bumgarner (Photo by Matthew Campbell-Pool/Getty Images)

Inc. published an article online about the type of trust an organization like the San Francisco Giants is building with its fan base. On the brink of winning the 2010 World Series, the Giants haven’t always been successful in the win column through the first decade of the new millenium. But that hasn’t kept them from doing the right thing when it comes to their “customers.”

After a fan has a problem, Stanley makes it a habit of finding them in the stands and making sure they’re having a good time. The idea is that, in the future, these fans will feel like they know someone in the Giants organization—and, in fact, they do. As far as Stanley is concerned, there’s no reason why anyone who comes to a game shouldn’t be able to greet a member of the staff by name and stop for a chat.  Relationships like these breed trust that encourages fans to come out for a game even during a losing season.

Win or lose the World Series, the Giants teach us a valuable lesson: There are no longer consumers, only customers. In the post-crisis age, the term consumer is a symbol of disrespect and ignorance. It is a demeaning stereotype of a mindless gobbling beast of indifference that ingests an endless abundance of goods and services without regard for consequence. The term consumer also suggests powerlessness—someone who can be controlled and manipulated for profit.

The article helps us to realize again, people don’t build relationships with organizations – people build relationships with people in organizations.

For me, this hits home with the students whom I encounter everyday on the campus of the University I work for. These students form an opinion about, develop a relationship with the University through their contact with the people of the University. A student feels good or bad about the University based on personal encounters with those within our community. If a student doesn’t trust the people within our University, the student won’t trust the University.

Whenever I hear someone who works on our campus begin to begrudge the students for some reason (thinking of them only as consumers) I quickly remind them of a couple of things. First, at the very least, we are gainfully employed because of these students who are willing to go into debt to be here – no students, no job. Second, everyone of us who works here plays a role in creating a transformational, learning community. Hopefully, we are here for the students and not simply because of the students (and I think there’s a difference).

In the end, it’s about building trust between two people. Tom Peters sums it up nicely in his book,  The Little Big Things. One of the best ways to build trust is through thoughtfulness. This is what is being displayed by organizations like the San Francisco Giants. This is what I hope to we’re devoted to at my University…

Thoughtfulness is key to customer (consumer!) retention.
Thoughtfulness is key to employee recruitment and satisfaction.
Thoughtfulness is key to brand perception.
Thoughtfulness is key to your ability to look in the mirror – and tell your kids about your job.

Thoughtfulness is free.

It seems the cost of building trust (through thoughtfulness) is often less than the cost of not building trust.

How have you seen the issues of trust and thoughtfulness play out in your world?

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