2022 Trust Report: Building Customer Trust is the Foundation of Digital Business Growth

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The digital economy is now worth $4 trillion globally, presenting countless opportunities to businesses. With the urgent drive for brands to elevate their digital experiences, one recurring theme persists – trust.

The unavoidable truth for every brand today is that customer loyalty and business growth in the digital economy are fundamentally dependent on trust.

Today’s digitally savvy consumers expect companies to step up as trust leaders in their communities, workplaces, and marketplaces. From living their brand purpose, to respecting customer data to delivering incredible experiences, trust is now a non-negotiable “table stake”.

To highlight the critical role trust plays in building successful, long-lasting customer relationships and driving business growth in the digital economy, Adobe surveyed almost 6,000 consumers and over 900 senior business leaders across EMEA.

The findings presented one clear message: trust must now be treated as a business imperative and demands priority at the very top of the organisation and C-suite’s agenda.

The stakes have never been higher

“Consumer demands are now higher than ever. Indeed, the research revealed that nearly 7 in 10 (69%) senior leaders find it harder to build and maintain trust than two years ago.

With ever-increasing touchpoints, brands need to meet their consumers across a multitude of channels and platforms, with consistent messages that remain relevant and personal.

And the data shows the stakes have never been higher for brands, with over half (57%) of consumers saying they would stop buying from a brand following a breach in trust.

Responsible use of data critical to earning trust

To build trust, brands must meet their customers in the places they value most, with experiences that are personal – and that is powered by the data they collect.

The research shows that, while consumers express worry over how companies use their data, they are clear and straightforward about what brands can do to rectify their fears:

Brands that mishandle data will face consequences that impact business. In fact, over two-thirds (67%) of consumers say they would stop purchasing from a brand that does any of the following: uses their data without permission, experiences a data breach, or disrespects their data preferences.

Despite this warning, the data shows less than half (43%) of business leaders rank strong data privacy and governance processes as a top priority, exposing a gap between consumer expectations and how business leaders are prioritising data.

Trust is built or broken with every experience

When customer data is used to create and deliver personalised experiences, consumer trust increases. But if they get it wrong, the price is high.

And the importance of digital in building trust continues to grow. The research revealed that almost half (48%) of consumers now place equal importance on digital and in-person experiences when it comes to earning their vital trust.

Trust begins at home

At its core, trust is an expectation that two parties will act in a way that’s mutually beneficial. And, while it’s critical that consumers trust the companies they buy from, the employees themselves must also trust the companies they work for.

When employees trust their companies, they feel more empowered to build trusting relationships with consumers – while customers place more trust in brands who treat their employees fairly.

Take the lead

The early days of COVID-19 cemented the relationship between marketing and IT leaders, whose It’s clear, we’ve reached a tipping point in the digital economy, where brands who focus on building trust through responsible use of customer data to deliver personal experiences will thrive, while those who continue to put their needs ahead of the customer will fall further behind.

Here are some recommendations to help you drive the prioritisation of trust within your organisation:

  1. Get your data in place: With consumers browsing and engaging on more channels, platforms, and touchpoints than ever before, the modern business is crying out for a single area to store, interrogate, and act on the wealth of customer data now available to them. Customer data platforms (or CDPs) succeed in uniting vast swathes of data into a single, easily discernible profile that can be used to power experiences (including web- and app-based personalization) which ensure brands are meeting customers at the right place and at the right time.
  2. Content and personalise at scale: Focus on creating personal experiences that demonstrate your brand truly see things from the consumer’s perspective, that you understand their frustrations and know what’s important to them. And to succeed, you must do it quickly and at scale. This means being able to deliver personalisation at scale – relevant experiences in real time for every customer on every channel, in every environment. All of this to millions, in milliseconds, while also respecting their privacy and preferences.
  3. Seamless customer journeys: Brands that connect the physical and digital to create new and exciting immersive worlds will be those that flourish. But, to achieve this, you need the tools and capabilities to dynamically build, enrich, refine, and activate audiences, while also determining the best content, offers, and messages to deliver them at every point in this seamless customer journey.

Trust sits at the very foundation of every healthy and successful relationship. And building trust into the very core of your organisation’s cultural DNA starts at the very top. If you can earn that trust from your employees, then they’ll reflect that authenticity and purpose onto your customers – unlocking endless possibility for your business to thrive in the digital economy.