The Fickle Game of Trust and How Every Customer Experience Can Make or Break It

Trust is the foundation of a successful business in the digital economy. UK consumers today are inundated with brands to engage and with and buy from, and have high expectations on what those companies should deliver. As a result, trust is intrinsically linked to brand loyalty - and can have direct impact on a business's bottom line. Crucially though, trust is a fickle game. It is earned or eroded with every customer experience, and getting it right has never been more important for UK businesses.

Our Adobe Trust Report examined how brand experiences can make or break trust with UK consumers, as well as the differing views of consumers and business leaders about what they consider most important. Here’s an summary of the main findings and how brands including Center Parcs, NatWest and Boots are putting trust at their core.

Build better relationships with empathy

In the UK, two-thirds of business leaders said that it’s harder to build and maintain trust with their customers since the start of the pandemic.

With ever-increasing touchpoints in the digital-first era, brands need to meet their consumers across a multitude of channels and platforms, with consistent messages that remain relevant and personal. The research shows that the right level of empathy will set brands apart. Almost three-quarters (73%) of UK consumers agreed that showing empathy was the most important way for a brand to earn their trust.

Elena Ragone-Marriott, Head of Digital and Media at Center Parcs agrees that seeing things from their customers perspective can elevate the relationship beyond the functional into the personal: “Having the trust of our guests at Center Parcs is hugely important. Research has shown that 70% of guests wouldn’t book if we broke that trust. During the pandemic we made sure that guests were placed at the forefront of all the decisions we made, ensuring their safety, as well as our staff’s, throughout.”

Create personalised experiences

Brands need to show they truly understand their customers, have consistency across touchpoints, and treat customer data as the valuable asset it is. The research shows that, when customer data is used to create and deliver personalised experiences, consumer trust increases:

Personalisation at this scale requires brands to evolve their data strategy – prioritising their understanding of the customer through real-time, actionable data, building a high-speed content engine that creates personal and valuable connections, and providing a seamless journey for every customer.

Make every interaction count

Brands in the UK must not overlook the importance of both physical and digital experiences to earn trust. Physical stores are the most direct way for consumers to engage with a brand, their products, and their culture, however just over half (52%) of UK consumers say digital experiences are just as important as in-person ones when it comes to earning their trust. With so many touchpoints, it’s important that customers are engaged consistently wherever they are.

“I don’t think trust is built by having one really clean transaction with a customer. Trust is made up of having a lot of small, high-quality interactions that build up that relationship over time. In the same way that you don’t build a strong relationship with a person in a day, you’re not going to do that with a customer either.”

Zachery Anderson, Chief Data & Analytics Officer, NatWest Group

Be data responsible

UK brands today must be transparent about what they are capturing, how they are using it and the value that data will bring to the customer. Our data shows us that this is high on the priority list for their customers:

“Personalisation relies on great data and the willingness of your customers to share that data with you. Data sharing is based on three things: trust that any data will be looked after, will be used wisely, and will be used only for the purpose intended.”

“Boots has built a strong reputation over the 170+ years we have operated as a business. It means that our customers trust us to use their data well. But we’ll only keep that trust by looking after that data; and when customers share it with us, we’ll continue to be really clear on how it is being used. That’s such an important ingredient of personalisation.”

Dave Robinson, Head of Customer Engagement Development, Boots

Maintaining trust is fine balancing act, but the good news for brands is that a small mis-step can often be forgiven if handled correctly. When asked how brands can regain trust after it was lost, the top three things UK consumers wanted to see were a commitment to keeping data safe (88%), providing transparency and control over how their data is used (86%), and, importantly, apologising (84%).

Brands that are thinking about trust from the boardroom down have the potential to deliver monetary benefits across their total customer base. Those that ignore it do so at their own peril, and risk seeing their customers walking away for good.

You can read the full Trust report here.