Playing the Trust Card

By Peter Yorke, SVP and Head of Marketing, SunTec Business Solutions​

In the new digital economy, customer trust will be the differentiator between business success and failure. Given the disruption of the last year, it is now fairly evident that digital transformation is a critical driver of business resilience and growth. To be truly successful in the modern business landscape, the transformation must go deeper than the mere implementation of technology. For decades, businesses across sectors operated in a unilateral way – customers engaged with them as and how they decreed. But the emergence of digital technologies turned this model on its head. New digital native entrants leveraged technology to introduce customer focused business models that delivered services and products where, when and how they wanted. And older more traditional business must now revamp their strategies to put the customer at the heart of their business. Above all, they must use technology to establish and deepen customer trust in them.

Trust forms the foundation that our social structure is built upon. It is the basis of human relationships including those between a customer and a business. When consumers trust a brand, they are loyal to it, they develop a lasting relationship with it and they even evangelize it. Yet in the modern business landscape, consumer trust in brands is eroding rapidly. Data breaches, socio political unrest, technology led transformations and perceptions around value alignment have led to customers, especially millennials, losing faith in brands. The Gartner 2019 Brand Trust Survey reveals that 81 percent of customers disengage from businesses they don’t trust. And 89 percent intend to stop engaging with a brand that breaks their trust.1

Customers want dependability from the businesses they interact with. And technology holds the key to ensuring dependable seamless service and engagements. It is not enough to merely offer personalized products and services; it is equally important to make sure that customers can seamlessly access on demand. A point to remember when embarking on a technology led transformation of strategy is that decisions based on AI powered insights may seem incomprehensible to people outside the system. Organizations must establish best practices for ensuring ethics, transparency and good governance.2 They must implement comprehensive audit processes so that decisions can be reviewed and easily explained. For example, a telecommunications provider found that customers were unhappy with seemingly ad hoc price increases and had to implement holistic measures to address their concerns and enhance brand trust.3

Data security, privacy and risk management must be at the top of any digital transformation agenda across banking & financial services, insurance, and telecom sectors as these are top drivers of consumer trust. Bad actors are leveraging technology to mount increasingly sophisticated attacks on enterprise data and the world has seen several large-scale breaches that compromised sensitive data. Not just the banking and financial services sectors, organizations across every sectors are vulnerable to breaches and must invest in end-to-end risk management and security strategies. AI powered security models that can monitor and detect threats in real time, and automated risk and compliance management platforms can go a long way in ensuring regulatory compliance. Advanced security and the guarantee of privacy is bound to improve customer trust.

At the end of the day, trust is an outcome of a supportive and mutually beneficial relationship. It is critical to ensure that customers feel that the brand cares for them when they need it. As the world recovers from the pandemic, organizations must go the extra mile to show customers they care. Insights gleaned from customer data can help them understand and address customer pain points better. And they must also stay tuned in to larger circumstances that impact customers to offer help when they can. For example, in the early days of the pandemic when grocery stores ran out of stocks, some restaurants started stocking essentials for their customers to buy.4 They showed they were capable of understanding the larger context within which the customer was living, understood their pain points and were willing to help them in any way they could.

Customer trust is a valuable asset that cannot be taken for granted. It is a work in progress and every organization must routinely take stock of their trust index and adjust their strategy accordingly. Customers trust brands that they perceive as ethical and dependable. Organizations must focus on not only delivering customer centric engagement models, but also on ensuring transparency, committing ethical practices and values, ensuring privacy and security and above all, delivering on their promise. After, all, as His Holiness, the Dalai Lama said, “To earn trust, money and power aren’t enough; you have to show some concern for others. You can’t buy trust in the supermarket.”

Digital transformation and building consumer trust were amongst the many relevant topics that were discussed, debated and ideated upon at Confluence 2021, SunTec’s annual industry event. Discover how to build trust and accelerate customer centric digital transformation strategies. Watch our on-demand sessions here:

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Peter Yorke

Peter Yorke leads the marketing function at SunTec and runs global programs for the company. He comes with 32 years of experience in branding, corporate communications, marketing, high-tech public relations, training, and strategic communications consulting. Peter’s past experience covers the IT Services and Products industry including stints at Oracle Financial Services Software [formerly i-flex solutions], TCS and Wipro. Peter has a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Bombay and a Diploma in Journalism from the Bombay College of Journalism. Peter is a member of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).