The way traditional and social media cycles operate today, it is safe to say companies are more vulnerable than ever to controversy. Customer trust was broken when Facebook admitted to having mishandled their data. Similarly, controversy swirled around food delivery apps as the DoorDash tip-stealing scandal revealed unethical salary practices rampant in the industry. Even if a brand has had positive associations attached to it for years, all it takes is one news story going viral to alter the tides.
So while we’ve discussed the importance of earning customer trust in the digital business landscape, here are some proactive ways a business can become a major player in the trust economy.
Even if a brand has had positive associations attached to it for years, all it takes is one news story going viral to alter the tides.
1. Promote authenticity and transparency
Customers have a keen sense of when a business treats them as a transaction—constantly looking to upsell or finish the interaction as quickly as possible. Promoting a company culture of authenticity, where employees feel comfortable using their personalities to engage customers on a personal level helps to improve customer trust. Transparency and trust can come in the form of setting and meeting service level agreements (SLAs) or making documentation available so that customers can see how businesses are utilizing their data.
2. Express company values through advocacy
As the most customer-facing part of most organizations, advocacy should be the gold standard for how the rest of your business handles interactions with customers. Promote a culture of following-up, whether through customer success or proactive outreach. Realigning to make the customer the top priority within any department empowers employees to start adding value to your customer’s experiences on their own accord—as they look to embrace the organizational mission to the fullest.
3. Develop thought-leadership
Gartner’s 2018 "Market Trends: Customer Experience, Trust and Retention Define Opportunities for Customer Management Digital Services" report suggests that developing thought-leadership, as well as consulting capabilities within digital service fields, can be a crucial element in fostering early customer trust. Journey-mapping and content creation that includes blog posts and visual guides can allow your business to create additional touchpoints for customers to internalize your brand—oftentimes even before they need your products or services.
Customers have a keen sense of when a business treats them as a transaction
4. Invest in emerging technologies
The same Gartner report touted the importance of investing in emerging technologies to ensure customers they are receiving the best service in the market. This doesn’t mean companies should rush to try the most recent thing to hit the market; a technology is only worth investing in once its platform is stable and its ability to deliver quality at scale has been tested. This means looking to be at the forefront of data security, AI, and communication technologies.
[Related read: How to choose the right partner. Technology partner, that is.]
5. Track metrics that align with trust
When evaluating employees, or your organization as a whole, knowing which metrics reflect trust—rather than simply relying on traditional metrics related to revenue—is another step toward gaining a loyal customer base. When statistics like customer satisfaction ratings and churn are given priority over profit-margin, you will see your organization providing the best possible customer experiences. Rather than pressing employees to work through customers purely for efficiency, advocate for them to engage with customers as intimately as possible. Prove to your customers that your business values their needs over the bottom line.