We live in a digital economy world where billions of daily online transactions between consumers and organizations are happening. At the heart of this economy lies the use of the Internet and Blockchain technologies. Through digital transformations, traditional brick-and-mortar organizations have successfully transitioned into taking advantage of the latest technologies to serve a more connected and tech-savvy audience. At the same time, new companies and brands have spun up most exclusively online with no physical presence focusing on delivering a 100% digital experience to their consumers.
However, with the multiplication of channels, devices, and screens, organizations have been heavily investing in data collection techniques to make sense of all consumer data with the business objective to provide more tailored and personalized experiences. At the same time, consumers are increasingly worried about how these organizations use their data and demand more transparency and privacy. Since Data is the fuel to great customer experiences, it is not surprising that it is also one of the core components of building Trust between organizations and their audiences.
Adobe released a report earlier this year to better understand how brands can build Trust with customers and employees. Although you can access the Adobe 2022 Trust Report here, I'd like to highlight some of its content and add my point of view.
Adobe surveyed 12,066 global consumers and 2,031 senior executives across 15 North America, Europe, and Asia countries. The report focuses on four key themes: Data, Content, Technology, and Brand Values. The report also quantifies the effects of a broken Trust on the bottom line.
1- Trust in Brand
The report explains that Trust begins with organizations and brands practicing the values they preach. When Trust is established, it has a direct effect on the bottom line. Some of the figures shared in the report show:
44% of consumers say they will spend at least $500/year, while 29% will spend more than $1,000/year.
Younger consumers (Gen Z and Millennials) are more likely to spend $1,000+ with their most trusted brands.
55% of consumers say that once a company has violated their Trust, they will never give them their business again. This percentage gets even worse for Gen Z, with 60% saying they won't give their business anymore.
In my opinion, Trust starts with the tacit contract between an organization/brand and its audience in solving a problem or filling a need. With many brands competing for attention, the value an organization lives by can make a difference in convincing its audience to transact. Brands that show Leadership, Integrity, Accountability, Passion, and Responsible are some of the winning values today's consumers are attracted to. I am not surprised to see the above number and how much $$$ consumers can spend when doing business with a Trusted organization. Since B2B buying cycles are longer than those in B2C, it is not surprising to read that 61% of the people surveyed who make purchasing decisions at work say that their B2C buying experiences are better than their B2B ones.
2- Trust in Data
In this Blog, I emphasize Data and how it is critical to any successful customer experience. In the past decades, the relationship between organizations and consumers has generated a deluge of Data. This Data is primarily online and provides a more granular view of who consumers are, how they behave, and what they purchase. Although this situation is an opportunity for organizations to use this Data to create more personalized and meaningful experiences, consumers demand more governance rules around the information they share online. In Adobe's report, we can read that:
79% of consumers are concerned about how companies are using their data.
81% of consumers say choosing how companies use their Data is important.
29% of consumers say brands still make it too complicated to protect, understand, and choose how their Data is used.
The above figures acknowledge the demand from consumers for more Data transparency and usage. At the same time, the report highlights that:
Only 41% of executives say having strong data privacy and governance processes is a top priority for their companies.
13% say integrating customer data into a single view and leveraging AI to provide better CX are top priorities.
These numbers are shocking. In almost all of my meetings with organizations and brands, Data privacy and governance have been a topic we can't seem to avoid. One way or the other, conversations include handling personal data in compliance with Data protection laws, regulations, and general privacy best practices. In the age of CDPs, where Data from different sources is coming together in a single customer view, I doubt that brands can succeed if they are not adopting a privacy-first approach to business. It simply can't be sustainable as a lack of Data privacy and governance will ultimately damage consumer Trust.
3- Trust in Content
As we say: "Content is king!". It is true that without content, there's no story to be told and, therefore, no experience to be lived. In Adobe's report, we read:
71% of consumers say that relevant content delivered at the right time and place boosts their Trust.
73% of consumers are concerned about whether online content is trustworthy.
With the Data volume and velocity we, practitioners, are experiencing, consumers are not only expecting the right content as they engage with brands but also for this content to adjust to their most up-to-date situation. With consumers being on multiple devices and screens and multi-tasking at the same time as engaging with brands, no wonder they put a higher Trust when the content served to them is relevant and timely.
Additionally, consumers across generations agree that experiencing trustworthy content is becoming an essential aspect of the level of Trust they have with the organizations they do business with. Communities such as the Content Authority Initiative are working to promote the adoption of an open industry standard for content authenticity and provenance. I wouldn't be surprised as more organizations adopt these standards in the future.
4- Trust in Experiences
This is when it all comes together as a great Experience is a fine blend of Data, Content, Orchestration, and AI. It is successful when it solves a problem or fills a need a consumer has expressed directly or indirectly. The report shows that:
Consumers say that in-person and digital experiences are equally important to building Trust (65%), while for younger consumers (Gen Z and Millennials), digital experiences are more important than in-person experiences.
More than half of consumers (58%) will stop purchasing from a brand that doesn't provide personal experiences they value.
72% of consumers say "bad" personalization decreases their Trust in brands, with more than 1/3 (36%) saying it significantly harms their Trust.
Beyond the figures above, I see Orchestration and AI as key ingredients that separate great from memorable experiences. Today, many organizations (still) have Data sitting in isolated silos, which prevents them from having a clear and fresh view of their customers. Even when they do, I still see many of them not sharing this Data internally, which makes it hard to orchestrate a personalized, relevant, and timely experience. When it comes to AI, the report indicates that:
45% of consumers are optimistic that AI will improve their customer experiences even more in the future.
Gen Z is even more optimistic at 63%.
89% of brands trust that AI improves their customers' experiences, but 65% have also observed AI-driven bias.
Today, there's no way organizations can scale their business and achieve their business goals without using AI. Fortunately, consumers have exposure to what AI means and its benefits. However, organizations need to ensure their AI practice is well staffed, continuously working with the business, and in tune with consumer demands on Trust.
Trust is the firm belief in the reliability, truth, and ability a consumer puts in an organization or brand when they interact and do business with. The Adobe report is an excellent reminder that Customer Trust is earned and broken with every experience.
When Trust is broken, the best practice is to acknowledge the event, show empathy and compassion, and apologize to your customers (or employees).
Set Data Governance standards and rules and ensure you say what you do and do what you say.
Create trusted content that informs your audience and helps them solve a business problem.
Orchestrate real-time experiences that leverage fresh and most up-to-date Data.
Join the conversation and share your views and experiences around Trust by leaving a comment below.