Great CXpectations: customer trust

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Great CXpectations is an Adobe series bringing together customer experience leaders from across Asia Pacific to discuss how modern businesses can harness the right tech, people and skills to address exponentially rising customer expectations.

For today's brands, trust is a non-negotiable when it comes to building reputation, customer loyalty and the bottom line. So, why do so many marketers have a blind spot for customer data?

The Adobe Trust Report 2022: APAC found that 95 percent of executives across Asia Pacific believe consumers trust them to keep their data safe and use it responsibly. Yet, 85 percent of consumers say they are concerned about how companies use their data.

Recently, I spoke with Gabbi Stubbs, Adobe APAC Senior Product Marketing Manager, to find out what is driving this disconnect and why there's such a considerable discrepancy in the value exchange between marketers and customers when it comes to data and trust.

While our discussion could have gone on for hours, here are the key points for brands and marketers on how and why they should prioritise customer trust and how they can execute.

1. Responsible use of data is the price of admission

Today’s digitally-savvy consumers expect companies to step up as trust leaders in their communities, workplaces, and marketplaces. Trust is non-negotiable and must become part of every company’s DNA.

Put simply, consumers will stop buying from a brand for breaking their trust: 68 percent if a company uses their data without permission, 67 percent if they experience a data breach, and 66 percent if a company disrespects their data preferences.

2. Thinking short term is hurting brand trust

“The rise of digital has meant marketers have taken a short-term focus on metrics and performance which has taken focus away from long-term brand building which is really where you start to build not only brand equity but trust in brands as well,” Gabbi says.

She points to Australian bank Suncorp as an example of a brand taking a long-term, privacy-first approach to customer experience.

Operating in a highly regulated sector, she says Suncorp takes an empathetic approach to the customer across all interactions, from TVCs and community engagement to sponsorships and PR. This prioritisation of empathy focuses on the relationship and builds strong customer trust.

3. Trust starts at the top

“Anything to do with trust in any relationship in an organisation must start from the top down,” Gabbi says. “Trust needs to be a shared responsibility starting from the boardroom and the C suite downwards from there.”

It all starts with prioritising the customer in the relationship. From there, it's easy to implement the required governance and processes. And while it's ultimately a shared responsibility across an organisation, the imperative must flow from the top.

At Adobe, for example, we've identified this as a must-have in the digital economy and have appointed Dana Rao as Chief Trust Officer to oversee legal policy and security teams and create a unified strategy around technology, law and policy to strengthen our products and services.

4. Give customers control over their data

It's time to flip the script when it comes to customer data preferences. Providing more transparency and control to customers regarding how their data is used builds that value exchange by more clearly demonstrating the mutual benefit.

And it has a real business impact; 82 percent of consumers say having a choice about how companies use their data is essential, while 77 percent value transparency around how their information is being used.

Quote from Gabbi Stubbs, APAC Senior Product Marketing Manager at Adobe: "The rise of digital... has taken focus away from long-term brand building which is really where you start to build not only brand equity but trust in brands as well."

5. Come to the (first) party

Your customer is not a cookie. Sure, Google may have extended the lifespan of the third-party cookie for a little longer, but it’s time to build first-party identity relationships with your customers.

“Instead of thinking of your customer as a cookie which we’ve done for too long, marketers need to move away from that third-party thinking and look at building that first-party, personal relationship which can have a remarkable difference,” Gabbi says.

6. Centralise and unify your customer data view

Technology is key to powering enterprise personalisation. Being able to centralise and unify the view of your customers through a customer data platform like Adobe Real-Time CDP empowers your teams to harness first-party data to deliver personalised experiences at scale.

Australian supermarket giant Coles is doing just that, focusing on its first-party data and integrating its online and offline experiences by leveraging its CDP to help calibrate its customer acquisition engagement strategy.

7. Continue upskilling your team to keep pace with market changes

Finally, none of this is possible without a skilled team.

“One of the most fundamentally difficult things to be able to change is making sure that as the market and your organisation’s needs evolve, that the skills within your organisation do so as well,” Gabbi says.

You need to ensure your people come along with you on the journey.

It’s time to act

In the digital-first world, customers expect their data to be safe and used ethically, and they will punish brands that break that trust.

The protection of customer data needs to be recognised as a primary objective in any business to begin earning customers’ trust.

Consistently delivering experiences that provide relevant value for every customer across each stage of their journey requires innovative solutions that can work together and scale in real-time.