People and culture vital to gaining a trust advantage

Group of people in a boardroom writing on butchers paper.

According to Adobe’s Trust Report 2022: APAC, consumers emphasised the importance of the digital experience as a trust enabler and confirmed its influence over buying behaviours. However, the report also revealed that trust drivers between consumers and brands aren’t one-dimensional.

Most consumers now expect brands to advance social, environmental, and workplace agendas, treat employees fairly, use personal data responsibly, and ensure online content is trustworthy and technology is applied ethically. These are just some of the shifting drivers of trust that make up a positive brand experience, and missteps can be dealbreakers for many consumers.

These expectations also show just how important an organisation’s integrity, respect and responsibility are in the eyes of consumers. And unsurprisingly, whether they’re a customer or an employee, people hold brands to the same high standards.

Quote from Sarah Dunn, Head of Employee Experience, Adobe Asia Pacific and Japan: "While it has been a challenging, 
complicated time, with a rapidly 
changing employment landscape, 
the employee experience has 
become even more critical to 
brand performance and 
customer trust."

Sarah Dunn, Head of Employee Experience, Adobe Asia Pacific and Japan, explains, “If you look at the factors that really drive consumer trust in brands, many are influenced by company culture and team mindset.”

“While some, like doing the right thing by employees, may be more obvious, others such as respecting customers’ data preferences and being vigilant around AI bias rely just as heavily on an organisation’s values.”

This dynamic brings organisation culture and its role as the engine of trust to the forefront, with the fuel being valued customer and employee experiences.

People, culture and trust

The pandemic created a tipping point for people, from reimagining workplace models to re-evaluating what matters when it comes to work. In recent times, leaders have had to pivot and react quickly to these changing global requirements and consider the people, processes, and technology they need to succeed in the digital economy.

However, maximising technology, data-driven value creation, and internal capabilities to increase brand trust relies heavily on the binding influence of organisational culture. So, for businesses seeking to amplify consumer trust, the journey begins with their people.

“While it has been a challenging, complicated time, with a rapidly changing employment landscape, the employee experience has become even more critical to brand performance and customer trust”, Sarah says. “More than ever, culture is the differentiator in a company's market position.”

The Adobe Trust Report 2022: APAC shows explicitly that APAC consumers value brands with an inclusive, supportive employee culture. The top two factors likely to increase their trust in a company were supporting employees’ wellbeing (68%) and professional growth (66%).

These same consumers also trusted businesses that create a workplace, and products and services, that are accessible (63%) and drive diversity and inclusion initiatives (53%). Conversely, 65% of APAC consumers reported mistreating employees as a key reason they are likely to stop purchasing from a company.

The virtuous circle of employee experience

When asking employees about the organisations they work for, Adobe’s research revealed that 85% reported that the most important thing APAC brands can do to earn their employees' trust is practice what they preach. This was followed by providing professional and personal support (80%) and initiatives surrounding diversity and community.

Quote from Sarah Dunn, Head of Employee Experience, Adobe Asia Pacific and Japan: "If you look at the factors that 
really drive consumer trust in 
brands, many are influenced 
by company culture and team 
mindset."

“When it comes to the workplace, what employees expect and value mirrors that of consumers, traversing support, accessibility, diversity and inclusion,” Sarah says. “This reinforces the well-documented link between customer experience, employee experience and an organisation’s success.”

Treating employees well by prioritising their personal and professional wellbeing earns trust across the board, likely to help to attract and retain talent. Indeed, the escalating skills deficit and ‘talent wars’ are wrapped up in a brand’s reputation.

“At Adobe, we invest in developing our talent through training and mentorship, and we challenge our team with engaging work that builds their skills and has a global impact,” Sarah says.

“For high performing organisations and teams, maintaining cultural cohesion is key in driving acceleration and growth, and contributes to an environment where employees can excel in their professional and personal lives”.

Unpacking the trust exchange

The focus of the Adobe Trust Report 2022: APAC was on new expectations of a trusted brand experience. This research showed that responsible use of data and personal and personally valuable experiences are at the core of a trust ‘agreement’ between consumers and brands.

Put simply, customers will exchange their data for their brand loyalty and spend, so long as their preferences are respected and their experience is optimised.

In that way, trust is inextricably linked to an organisation’s bottom line. If a company ignores or exploits this data-trust exchange or their preferences, most APAC consumers say they will take their business elsewhere.

The same rules of engagement apply to an organisation’s people. It’s about respect. By affording this same respect to employees, an organisation can cultivate an environment of enduring trust. It will be better placed to ensure that internal trust translates externally, which is critical to earning and keeping the trust of its customers.

To better understand the trends influencing the trust between consumers and brands, and the critical role of people and culture in this exchange, get a full copy of the Adobe Trust Report 2022: APAC report here.