Circumventing Communication Blindspots and Trust Gaps in Technologically-Mediated Corporate Relationships: The Case of Chilean Business-to-Consumer E-Commerce
Trust is an essential ingredient of constructive human relationships, including economic exchanges. Blindspots are harmful omissions in strategy implementation due to reasons such as corporate inertia or management obsession in pursuing a certain vision mismatched with reality. This article outlines the main areas in which customer trust is under stress in Chilean business-to-consumer e-commerce and how e-buyers circumvent the problems that arise in those areas, from a Communications perspective. We not only discovered compensatory strategies devised by users to overcome those problems, but also some relevant corporate blindspots that should be addressed by retailers. Despite the strong growth of retail sales in emerging Latin American countries, Chilean e-commerce is relatively weak and problems of trust may be an important cause. Four areas of stress were outlined: previous perceptions about the firm, clarity and coherence of online information, personal data security, and delivery and post-sales services. Within these, inter-channel communication incoherence, lack of integration between retailers and outsourced logistics, and incoherent notions of trust emerged as the most important corporate blindspots harming the relationship with customers. On the other hand, we identified four compensatory strategies used by clients: selective auto-exposure, informal certifications, online/offline hybridization and anticipation/incorporation of other people experience.