Buyers in 2022 are savvy, have high expectations and are spoilt for choice when it comes to brands to engage with and buy from. Our recent Adobe Trust Report examined the impact brand interactions and experiences have on making or breaking trust with UK consumers, as well as the differing views of consumers and business leaders. One message came through loud and clear: trust has to be in the DNA of all businesses, and earning and maintaining it needs to be a top priority for the CEO and throughout all areas of the business.
If you thought there was a quick way to earn the trust of your customers, think again. In fact, in the UK two-thirds of business leaders said that it is harder to build and maintain trust with their customers since the start of the pandemic. Thankfully there is a light at the end of the tunnel, as the research also reveals the most effective ways that brands can establish that hugely valuable trusted relationship with consumers.
Create trust through great experiences
Creating trust day-to-day can be straightforward in theory, though putting that theory into practice takes time and constant focus. Brands need to show they truly understand their customers, have consistency across touchpoints, and treat customer data as the valuable asset it is.
Talking about trust, NatWest Group’s chief data and analytics officer, Zachery Anderson, said: “I don’t think trust is built by having one really clean transaction with a customer. Trust is made up of having a lot of small, high quality interactions that build up that relationship over time. In the same way that you don’t build a strong relationship with a person in a day, you’re not going to do that with a customer either.”
Almost three-quarters (73%) of UK consumers agreed that showing empathy was the most important way for a brand to earn their trust. Demonstrating they can see things from their perspective and understand what is important to them helps elevate the relationship beyond the functional and into the personal.
Consumers also recognise the importance of personalisation in achieving this, with almost 50% agreeing that a company’s use of technology to personalise their experiences increases trust. Personalisation is not without its pitfalls, however. A higher proportion (69%) of consumers said that poor personalisation decreases their trust in brands, with a third (33%) saying it significantly damages their trust.
In-person interaction is just as important as before
UK brands must not lose sight of how important physical real-world interactions are. Over half (52%) of UK consumers say digital experiences are just as important as in-person ones when it comes to earning their trust.
Great experiences and personalisation are driven by data, and today’s brands must be transparent about what they are capturing, how they are using it and the value that data will bring to the customer. Our research revealed that most consumers are concerned they get a raw deal in exchange for handing over their data: 71% fear that the data brands collect will not benefit them, and instead will only be used to help the brand.
Reassuringly, when it comes to governance and protecting the data they share, half of UK consumers believe most companies are doing a ‘good job’ of being responsible with their data. That understanding of the importance of protecting customer data is prevalent among businesses with over half (55%) of UK executives saying that having strong data privacy and governance is a top priority for their companies, above the global average of 41%.
If trust is broken, it isn’t game over. When asked how brands can regain trust after it was lost, the top three things UK consumers wanted to see were a commitment to keeping data safe (88%), providing transparency and control over how their data is used (86%), and, importantly, apologising (84%).
Proven impact on the bottom line
Quantifying the value of trusted relationships, the report also reveals how much more consumers are willing to spend with brands they trust. Nearly half (44%) of UK consumers will spend at least £250 more per year, while more than one in 10 (13%) will spend over £1,000 more per year with brands they trust.
For those brands that make trust a priority, and can deliver the personalisation at scale that consumers need and expect, those monetary benefits have the potential to scale across their customer base.
For those that don’t, the risk is far greater than their customers just spending less with them. They could see their customers walk away for good.
Alvaro del Pozo is vice-president of international marketing at Adobe.