Why earning customer trust is so difficult today and what to do about it


Customer trust is crucial to driving sales and revenue, but it is also close to an all-time low. Look no further than about 40% of Americans who do not trust the results of the last presidential elections. Skeptics of the COVID-19 vaccine are choosing to ignore health advice because they do not trust public health bodies, elected leaders, or scientists – in another prime example of the current crisis of confidence.

The Edelman Group has been publishing a Trust Barometer study for 20 years. This year, they report that confidence scores dropped for all social leaders, including religious, political, media and business leaders.

The general collapse of trust did not come out of nowhere. It’s a storm that’s been brewing for years, fueled by political scandals, “golden handshake” payments to backing entrepreneurs from companies that lost shareholder money and laid off hundreds of employees, and data breaches. and fraud cases that raised suspicions about who you can trust. your personal details.

COVID-19 was the nail in the trust coffin. It was an opportunity for leaders to regain public faith, but most of them missed the opportunity, perceived as closing too late, too harsh, and / or a reversal of regulations and restrictions.

And yet, brands must find a way to build and strengthen consumer trust if they want to make a profit. When asked how they make purchasing decisions, 38% of consumers said brand trust is the main factor.

Fortunately, there are still a few things your brand can do to help boost consumer confidence.

Talk about brand values

Executives may feel nervous about expressing their brand values, fearing alienating someone with a different perspective. But articulating your values ​​expresses your authenticity, which drives trust both online and offline. As with everything in life, if you try to please everyone by staying on the fence, you will end up pleasing no one.

“Showing your customers that your brand values ​​align with theirs is arguably the most important step for companies to build trust,” says Cori Widen, product marketing manager at Boosted by Lightricks. “Brand values ​​are more than just a mission statement – your brand values ​​help define the personality of your company and allow your customers to know more about your purpose in addition to making sales.”

The Edelman study mentioned above found that 86% of consumers believe CEOs should speak publicly about the key issues of the day, although it can be risky. We all feel more trust in people – and brands – who share our views, so staying silent can make it harder for consumers to identify with your brand.

Take care of your employees

Clients pay attention to their employer-employee relationship. If you are seen to treat your employees with care and respect, and employees express positivity about your workplace, this encourages consumers to trust you, too.

COVID-19 saw consumers publicly warning each other to stay away from companies that mistreated employees, while warmly recommending those that went beyond the call of duty to care for the financial, physical and mental health of workers. .

This is particularly important for companies that rely heavily on in-person interactions, such as brick-and-mortar stores, hotel brands, or leisure centers that need to encourage customers to come back to their doors.

People are still nervous about health and hygiene, and they will follow the cues of their employees. Jodi Watson, former CMO of Petco and Wolverine Worldwide, notes that “if your employees feel safe and confident, that will translate into consumer confidence.”

Putting the best interest of consumers at center stage

While trust has been crumbling left and right, faith in financial institutions has flourished. Globally, 82% of consumers say they are happy with their bank, the highest number in a long time.

This figure may be attributed to the speed with which banks and other financial institutions responded to COVID-19, rapidly implementing digital services, loan relief, and mortgage vacations.

“Consumers expect businesses to respond to crises and help solve problems, and in this case, financial services organizations quickly mobilized and took action,” explains Philip Giuliano, Partner of BrandActive. “By offering relief-oriented solutions (such as mortgage deferral programs for those adversely affected by the pandemic), they showed their clients that they were supported.”

No matter what industry you are in, you can learn from banks by responding more quickly to consumer questions, developing features that make their lives easier, sharing trustworthy and useful content, and overall, providing a great customer experience. .

Listen to your customers

Trust is a characteristic of a relationship, and a real relationship has to work both ways. Simply passing on your values ​​or beliefs is not enough to build a relationship based on trust.

You should also ask for feedback and, above all, listen to it and act on it.

Mackenzie Caudill, editor of What’s Next Labs, is a strong advocate for listening to customers, stating that “Trust is built when a company listens to its customers, acts accordingly, and delivers on its promises.

If organizations invite feedback but take no action, customers feel their trust has been betrayed. They consider the company to be dishonest and false, which diminishes the hope of a lasting relationship. “

Show your humanity

In times of crisis, people seek empathy and support. Your brand needs to find its human face so that it can connect with consumers on the same level. It’s a great time to share your own challenges while expressing genuine empathy for partners, consumers, and employees alike.

In April 2020, Rachel Diebner, a McKinsey consultant, warn that “Especially in times of crisis, a customer’s interaction with a company can trigger an immediate and persistent effect on their sense of trust and loyalty.” When the emotional stakes are high, the potential to win a customer for life is greatest, but it won’t work if you project faceless infallibility.

Make sure to share real behind-the-scenes footage of your struggles on social media, be honest about unexpected delays or changes to your products or services, and amplify the voices of real employees.

All is not lost for consumer confidence

Even when consumer trust collapses, there are still ways for brands to increase their trustworthiness and improve their relationship with consumers. By listening to customers, expressing empathy, caring for employees, articulating brand values, and focusing on customer needs, brands can raise their trust profile even when that of others is low.

Image credit: provided by the author; depositphotos; Thank you!

Reuben jackson

Reuben jackson

Ruben is a blockchain security consultant currently living in New York City. It helps organizations fundamentally redesign experiences to create new sources of value, and it also digitally reinvents business operations for greater efficiency.


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