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Customers Prioritize Trust. So Should You.

Trust is integral to relationships. It’s one of the core needs in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It’s so integral, it is often seen as more important to a successful relationship than even love

As the lines between people have blurred thanks to the global connectivity of technology, the prioritization of trust has become a deeply personal endeavor. For consumers and their personal data, trust has arguably become the top priority. After all, four out of five consumers say they need to be able to trust a brand to do what is right in order to buy from them.  

Sadly, trust that brands will do right by the consumer—or humanity at large—is at an all time low. The precipitous growth in distrust can, in no small part, be attributed to how brands have used data. 

For decades, brands have relied on third-party cookies as the quick path to personalization. As a result, so many consumers have deemed this to be invasive that third-party cookies are on their way out

The announcement has left many brands wondering, “where do we go from here?” The answer is simple. You go back to the basics. You focus on trust. 

Hitting the Reset Button

The changing rules and consumer expectations don’t have to leave you scrambling. There is a clear path towards instilling trust into your brand strategies. It’s a matter of hitting the reset button briefly, taking stock of where your brand sentiment and trust stands in your customer base, and moving forward.

Navigating a Fluid Path

The increase in global connectivity mentioned above has pushed a double-edged sword onto brands. 

On the one hand, marketers have myriad opportunities, touchpoints and channels to interact with consumers. The customer experience is no longer linear and can be personalized at the individual level with relative ease when compared to even just a few years ago. 

On the other hand, however, the floodgates are wide open for breaches in trust and unsatisfying customer experiences. 

Consumers are increasingly knowledgeable. They do their research. They read reviews and explore their options. Even the slightest slip up in the customer experience can be costly for brands. 

The ideal customer experience bakes trust into every message and interaction. And you foster that trust by combining data with contextualized communications. The first step is identifying which data to use.

Not All Data Is Untrustworthy

When looking at data deemed trustworthy by a customer, brands have to look at the source. And the best source for data that users will trust: users. 

Here’s where first-party and zero-party data come in. You can read here for more about how first- and zero-party data are used, but for this discussion, it’s important to focus on trust that comes inherently from using data implicitly (first-party) and explicitly (zero-party) provided by customers. 

Consumers are looking for a customer experience that adheres closely to their values, preferences, likes and dislikes. Let them tell you each of these and more. In allowing your communications with customers to be more of a back-and-forth rather than one-sided, you are allowing customers to drive some of that experience with your brand.

They get a say in how their time with you and your products is spent. Few things show mutual trust more than relinquishing power to the other side of the dynamic. Let your customers share their interests and preferences with you. Give them a voice. 

Once you have your first- and zero-party data identified, you have to work insights from this data into the other piece of the trust puzzle: contextualized communications.

We’re in This Together

Empathy is a hot topic in 2020. It is rare that an event like the pandemic brings the whole world together in a unified experience. And brands have had to call attention to this global disruption in their marketing campaigns. 

For instance, healthcare workers this year have taken on a monumental task. 

Shoe retailer Allbirds noticed and created an opportunity for its customers to help out. The company established two channels for donations to occur to give back to the healthcare community in the best way they know: through shoes. 

Allbirds COVID Response

If you need shoes for yourself or not, you have the option to donate a pair.

Addressing context and being empathetic to varying situations that impact buying behavior builds trust that your brand is paying attention. It humanizes the experience to bring that back-and-forth connection between brand and user to the next level. 

You appreciate when friends and family are empathetic; brands, in meeting expectations of a one-on-one experience, must utilize the data at their disposal to get a deeper understanding of how each customer is approaching the purchasing process. 

A fact that is far too often forgotten when brands strategize is that we are all consumers. Marketers, executives, product teams—we all have our own preferences, tastes, wants, needs, likes and dislikes.

It’s time the customer experiences reflects what we would enjoy ourselves. 

Humanizing the experience as I lay out above instills a sense of trust in your customer experience strategies. It’s trust that on the other side of that brand message is a person with the customer’s best interest in mind. 

Without this final, human element, the relationship retains a sense of formality, reducing it to a series of transactions rather than lifting it to the heights of where it should be: a long-term, trusted partnership.

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