Consumer trust and its impact on business
Trust is such a powerful word. Whether it is a personal or professional relationship, trust makes it possible to bridge the gap.
There is nothing new about the topic, but my interest was recently rekindled when I had a not-so-pleasant experience with a service provider I had been using. All hell broke loose when I finally decided to switch to another provider, and they made sure the exit experience was hard. They forgot that I had used their service for more than a decade, and disregarded my earlier complaints and warnings. It looked like they had a myopic view of the current context.
That led me to do some thinking about trust, so let’s look at how brands can make their customers trust their words, products, and the services they offer.
Historically, companies that learn consumer trust have gained immensely in the long run. Consumers focus less on cost as the trustworthiness increases. According to a recent survey by Deloitte Digital, when consumers were asked to define “relationship” with brands, they focused mostly on emotional responses — primarily a combination of trust and loyalty. Even though they appear purely emotional, behind the scenes are the rational considerations. Consumers most often referred to product quality and reliability (83%) and fair prices (71%) as the most important factors.
The Trust Pyramid formulated by Ingrid Lindberg expects services to be easy and helpful for their consumers.
Courtesy: Ingrid Lindberg, Chief Customer LLC
It’s as simple as delivering the promises you make. When consumers order online, deliver the right product on time. If you have promised to pick-up and drop-off a customers’ vehicle for servicing, stick to your timelines. Delivering on promises only occasionally is no good, but must be repeated with the quality of service. You then move up the hierarchy to develop trust. Companies need to strive to match consumers’ perceptions in order to earn trust.
Building consumer trust is multi-dimensional. It requires careful consideration of how to be useful, repeatable, reliable, truthful, transparent, secure, ethical, sustainable and purposeful, and get it right in each of these dimensions. The “corpsumers” who believe in certain values are looking for similar values from brands. During the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers took to social media urging certain brands to take care of their employees rather than overspending on enticing customers. This journey is not as simple as we might think. Failing erodes trust and requires an enormous effort to rebuild it. It should start with an apology, followed by accepting mistakes and making sure they are not repeated.
Gone are the days when brands could afford to be reactive. Follow up genuinely and proactively pass on the benefits to consumers as my broadband service provider did — proactively upgrading my plan to match its competitor without increasing the cost. This not only eliminated any unwanted comparisons by me, but also increased my perception (trust) of the provider. Consumers should feel peace of mind, not have to give a piece of their minds. This requires an acknowledgment from the organization and the senior leadership team in particular that a customer trust deficit exists which must be addressed. They should prioritize building consumer trust throughout the buyer’s journey and beyond.
Building consumer trust is multi-dimensional. Consumers should feel peace of mind, not have to give a piece of their minds. This requires an acknowledgment from the organization and the senior leadership team that a customer trust deficit exists which must be addressed.
Sometimes we see the front-end team making unreasonable promises to meet targets or becoming apathetic about service delivery once the contract is signed. Merely calling the back-end team “the powerhouse” and expecting some magic to happen is unreasonable.
This requires a holistic approach and a careful orchestration of employee experience and experience engineering to create the kind of customer experience that results in consumer trust. It is a journey that needs a systematic and disciplined approach.