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How can today's brands gain and retain consumer trust?

As we discussed in our recent article on B2C and B2B sales, brands across all sectors need to work much harder today to win consumer trust. Surveys consistently show that finance, in particular, is one of the least trusted sectors and is still struggling to win back consumer confidence after the financial crisis.

To understand how brands can face these challenges, let’s look at some of the main factors that influence consumer trust, and how professionals, particularly in regulated sectors such as finance, can meet consumer expectations.

Authenticity

In a climate where trust is at an all-time low, authenticity is crucial. Brands must understand what their customers’ value and adopt a customer-centric approach, ideally across all functions, to consistently deliver that value.

How can they do this?

Knowing your customer is the starting point in delivering an authentic customer experience and research is one of the most valuable methods of gaining an in-depth understanding your target market, their needs and challenges. Conducting pre or post sales Voice of Consumer (VOC) research allows a business to gather high quality intelligence, directly from the consumer, and then use that to tailor processes, strategies and propositions to support customer success.

Values and consistency

Every organisation needs a solid set of brand values that communicate what it stands for, and give it credibility with potential clients who share those values. Once established, organisations must adhere to the values they set and operate authentically through those values – effectively, they need to do what they say they will. The new era of transparency has highlighted many instances where brands whose behaviours aren’t in line with the values they promote, have been exposed with devastating effects on trust and reputation.

What can companies do to ensure consistency?

Customer satisfaction

Just as VOC research opens and maintains a valuable dialogue, post-sale customer satisfaction surveying is integral to gaining measurable and actionable feedback that will ensure your organisation not only meets, but exceeds, the standards customers expect. Customer views change over time and it is critical to solicit feedback, measure and gauge the health of your customer relationships on an ongoing basis.

Treating Customers Fairly

In regulated industries, where misselling scandals have continuously hit the headlines, brands need to go beyond just measuring customer satisfaction. They need to establish that their products not only meet customer needs but that customers have a clear understanding of product features and benefits and are treated fairly at every stage of the customer journey.

A robust Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) process is essential therefore for any regulated firm where there may be a risk of marketing unsuitable products to the wrong customers. A flexible and personal channel such as phone can be really valuable in supporting a robust compliance process, which requires clear communication and often involves complex subject matter.

Clean, compliant data

With GDPR now in force, there is heightened sensitivity around how businesses handle personal data. We are all familiar with data leaks causing international scandals and, to maintain trust, businesses in industries that handle sensitive data must be 100% compliant with legislation. Aside from compliance, rigorous data management and privacy processes resulting from GDPR, can only benefit businesses - increasing engagement rates and allowing them to develop trust-based relationships with smaller groups of potentially high-value customers.  Clean, up-to-date data and robust data protection is becoming a brand asset that gives reputable companies a competitive edge.

Building long-term relationships

The need to create and maintain strong relationships with customers is key for any business, and particularly those in the B2B sector. Telemarketing and telephone research both provide opportunities for a positive, two-way dialogue that captures valuable insight and ensures businesses are in tune with, and supporting customer needs. This in turn deepens engagement, builds trust, improves retention and creates sustainable partnerships that increase profitability.

Moreover, opening and maintaining a dialogue with your valued client base is a powerful way of ‘humanising’ your brand and creating the emotional connection, which is essential to establishing and maintaining trust.

As a Market Research Society Company Partner and an FCA authorised and regulated business, our expert telephone research team can provide high quality customer insights to feed your engagement strategy, and help you meet your TCF compliance needs. If you would like to discuss how we can help support your requirements, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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