Earlier this year I interviewed Maggie Chan Jones, the former global CMO of SAP, for my Forbes column. One of the questions I posed to her – which also happened to be the title of the article itself – was: should the CMO lead the customer experience?
While that may seem like the ultimate hedge, it was anything but. She went on to explain when it comes to B2C brands, it makes sense for the CMO to lead the customer experience.
On the B2B side, however, where a majority of the customer experience is handled through a direct sales team and touches across multiple functions like customer success team and support team, a separate or joint role would work better.
You can debate Maggie’s take if you want, but the reason I bring this up is that no matter who leads the CX, there is one word that may just be the secret sauce to success.
That word is TRUST.
“Trust is essential for retailers seeking to harness data about consumers in order to provide a better experience.” This statement is from PwC’s Global Consumer Insights Survey 2018 and the very first word of the line contains the one word that is the key to the customer experience promised land for brands.
It reminded me right away of something Zig Ziglar once said:
If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.
Same principle, right?
Of course, but knowing this is one thing. Establishing it is something completely different. But rest assured, once trust is established, it carries with it a lot of weight when it comes to purchase decision.
The above image also comes from the PwC report. The question posed to consumers was: “Other than price, what influences you to shop at a particular retailer?” As you can see trust scored extremely high when it comes to purchase influence.
The Many Faces of Trust
Knowing how important trust is and establishing it – and maintaining it – are very different things. Trust between a consumer and a brand can manifest itself in the following four ways.
1. Does the consumer trust that you are protecting their data?
Consumers know that retailers have the data and they’re generally ok with that. According to PwC, “Over 40% of our survey respondents said they were comfortable having a retailer monitor their shopping patterns and purchases and expect a retailer to have up-to-date information on how they interact with it across all channels, including in store, online, and via social media.”
However, all it takes is one misstep – like a data breach – when it comes to their data and all that trust that you worked so hard to establish will be wiped away, never to be seen again.
2. Does the consumer trust that you are doing right by the world?
In research released in 2008, yes 2008: “Results show that consumers’ perceptions of CSR [customer service rep] activities have a positive influence on their trust toward the company, directly and indirectly through the influence on perceived quality of the products offered and consumer satisfaction.” And if you think this research is no longer relevant, you’re kidding yourself. If anything, the influence is even more positive than it was 10 years ago.
3. Does the consumer trust that you are transparent and forthcoming?
You know the data breaches I alluded to above? If your brand ever experiences one, or your brand does something else that you would rather not talk about, then the best thing to do is come clean as fast as humanly possible. Brands and marketers should know better than anyone that there are no hiding places. There is no delete button. Own up to your mistakes and consumers will be more likely to forgive you. Try and hide something and you risk expulsion.
4. Does the consumer trust that you are going to give them that they want, when they want it?
This one goes back to data as well. Remember that consumers know what you think they don’t know. They know what marketers know about them. And because of that, they expect – if not demand – for you to use what you know about them to provide them with the best possible experience. See how it all ties together? They know you have the data, which means they know that you know them. They trust that you will give them what they want and not something they don’t. Please don’t try to sell them something they just bought as many retargeted ads do.
Building brand trust isn’t easy, as the PwC report points out. It can take years to establish trust between consumers and brands.
I want to leave you with one final quote:
Trust is built when someone is vulnerable and not taken advantage of.
I absolutely love this quote particularly in this context. Consumers – who include me and you in case you forgot – are all vulnerable. We share so much of what we do, often unknowingly when it comes to data via our day-to-day activities.
Brands who take advantage of this vulnerability are the same brands who will eventually fail.
Mark my words.
Steve Olenski is a Forbes contributor, CMO Whisperer, writer, content marketer, influencer, advertising/branding guy, screenwriter, idea generator and massive coffee imbiber.