Brand trust is a key differentiator for many thriving businesses. In today’s society consumers are overwhelmed with choices and competition across all categories is fierce. In an increasingly cluttered marketplace trust isn’t just nice to have, it has become a key strategic asset for brands.
If a customer trusts your brand they are more likely to invest in your products and services. According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report, a broad range of consumers (across markets, ages, incomes, and gender) say that brand trust is essential to buying. Furthermore, trust can build brand loyalty and generate return business. Gartner says 80% of a company’s future profits come from 20% of its existing customers — proving that trust can help to build customer retention. A loyal customer is also a marketing asset as they will be more likely to share positive experiences through word-of-mouth to their online and offline networks.
In order to build trust brands must offer reliable and consistent customer experiences. There is a multitude of emerging technologies available that can create seamless experiences and bring maximum value to the consumer.
Here are four ways that brands can utilise technology to build customer trust:
1. Frictionless experience
Customers have come to expect what we call a ‘frictionless experience’ that integrates technology with a customer’s needs and daily lives.
A good example of using technology to create a frictionless customer experience is the graphic design platform Canva. The platform puts customer experience first by making the platform accessible, easy to use, and removing any barriers, allowing individuals with little or no software experience to create designs easily. Founder Melanie Perkins has said: “I wanted to enable everyone to take their idea and communicate it easily, without any friction.”
Due to COVID-19 brands have had to quickly prioritise their digital offerings to ensure a faultless online experience. More customers are shopping online and this trend is expected to continue according to the PwC Global Consumer Insights Survey 2020, with 86% of survey respondents saying that they are likely to continue shopping online and by phone when social distancing measures are lifted.
Brands might utilise technology tools such as AI chatbots that use machine learning to speed up customer service enquiries. Or perhaps the frictionless experience comes in the form of automated workflows or improved data and analytics on the backend.
A frictionless customer experience demonstrates that a business is competent, consistent, and has empathy for the customer’s needs.
2. AR and VR
Augmented and virtual reality is changing the landscape of digital marketing and e-commerce experience. Virtual reality (VR) is an immersive computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment, whereas Augmented reality (AR) is an amalgamated view of a real-world scene with computer-generated graphics superimposed over it. AR and VR both offer unique interactive online experiences and are being utilised by innovative brands to redefine customer experiences.
According to research from Deloitte eight out of 10 top tech companies have already invested in AR and VR. In a post-COVID-19 investment in online experiences is likely to increase.
From commercial experiences to digital marketing, brands can implement AR and VR in a variety of ways. It might allow customers to envision how a product will look inside of their home or perhaps test a product that they cannot physically access. From a marketing perspective, AR and VR help marketers to craft engaging and memorable experiences with a brand.
By using technology like AR and VR, brands can simulate real-life experiences with products and services, building trust from anywhere.
3. Highly personalised experience and privacy
Companies have long been using machine learning and AI to better understand customer behaviour and build more personalised experiences. Insights from McKinsey & Company say that personalisation can deliver five to eight times the ROI on marketing spend, and can lift sales by 10% or more. Personalisation can take the form of custom retail experiences, relevant recommendations or highly targeted marketing campaigns.
There’s no doubt that creating highly personalised and unique experience shows a customer that a brand truly understands their wants and needs, but in order to truly build trust there must be a reciprocal relationship when it comes to privacy. Customers must trust that their data is secure and only being used to enhance their experience. A brand must, therefore, take responsibility for being transparent about how they collect and use a customer’s data. A pulse check survey from Accenture showed that 83% of consumers are willing to share their data to enable a personalised experience “as long as businesses are transparent about how they are going to use it and customers have control over it”.
Rapid advancements in technology, data and analytics are allowing businesses to offer more tailored service, but in order to truly build trust brands must ensure that the data used is fair and transparent.
4. Supply Chain Transparency
New technologies have made integrated supply chain management increasingly important. Regardless of how much money a brand invests in its website or digital marketing, customer experience truly relies on delivering a product or service (in a timely manner) that meets the customers expectation. In order to provide a seamless experience, a brand must consider all aspects of its supply chain and actively mitigate risks. Technology can help to facilitate scalable growth, from logistics to through fulfillment.
Supply chain transparency is also fundamental to growing brand trust. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, more than 70% of consumers link their purchase to considerations that historically were tied to trust in corporations, including supply chain, reputation, values, environmental impact, and customer before profit. A current example of a brand taking control of its supply chain is Apple’s recent commitment to be 100% carbon neutral for its supply chain and products by 2030. There is untapped marketing potential in reaching conscious consumers and building trust by utilising technology to effectively manage a company’s supply chain.
One of the most important things that any brand can do is build trust with their customer. Clever use of technology can create seamless experiences for consumers and demonstrate that a brand is capable of delivering on its brand promises. By utilising new technologies companies differentiate themselves from the competition and build lasting trust and loyalty to their brand.