AI has people falling in love with animals and places that don’t exist. Social platforms go out of their way to make you angry in the name of “stickiness.” Politics? Well, I’ll stay out of that. And PwC’s 2023 trust survey suggests that customers are losing trust in businesses across every industry.
The survey also shows a tremendous gap between customers’ actual feelings of trust and what executives imagine them to be. Leaders tend to overestimate the trust their companies engender by 50% to 60% and more. At the same time, consumers are becoming less forgiving when a company makes a mistake.
So what does a company that really stands by its beliefs and its products do—especially when cynicism is at an all-time high?
When customers trust you, they’ll give you more—more business, more referrals and more information that will allow you to personalize and continue to move the relationship forward.
Let us see the work you’re doing. Whether it’s data protection, employee training, or forward looking environmental, social, and governance policies, transparency is the easiest way to build trust with your brand—and it’s easy to promote these efforts regularly via social channels and customer communications.
Place service at the very top. Not just responsiveness when a problem crops up (although you have to have that buttoned up, too)—personalization, active outreach and recommendations, right-timed information, using their preferred channels, and great self-service options can all help show that you value the relationship. And, oh yeah, answer the phone.
Keep the humans involved. AI is great for chatbots—as I just noted, self-service support is a win for users and for businesses looking to keep customer care costs down. But people can sense Chat GPT-generated text, and even the most conversational software can sound a bit off without the engagement of a live person to ensure that your brand personality, not a robot’s, shines through.
Make your content about them. No more brochures thinly disguised as white papers. No more FAQ pages that don’t answer real questions. No more case studies that pretend everything went according to plan. Help people solve a problem or learn what they want to know—don’t leave out the messy stuff, if it’ll help them understand you or their challenges better. Just make sure marketing and sales and service are all saying the same thing, and be real.
Own your mistakes. Lately, people look shocked when someone apologizes in a professional setting. Somewhere along the line we were told that it looks weak to apologize, and that we should spin a story and couch things in the third person instead of just saying, “Yeah. We missed that and we’re sorry. Now let’s make it right.”
Two great examples: Rather than cop to selling seats on nonexistent flights, Australian airline Qantas is currently trying to convince people they don’t sell seats on specific flights, but instead they let you pay to generally, eventually get somewhere. Fox News paid nearly $800 million last year to avoid apologizing for lying about the 2020 US election. Needless to day, neither company is exactly a bastion of consumer trust.
Where does trust come from?
Trust in business is no different from any other relationship. So be open. Be honest. And fess up when you get it wrong. (But try really hard not to get it wrong, because it’s harder than ever to win your way back onto customers’ good sides.)
It’s absolutely worth the effort. After all, when customers trust you, they’ll give you more—more business, more referrals and more information that will allow you to personalize and continue to move the relationship forward.
For authentic, honest communications and ideas for making the most of your audience relationships, look to FATFREE. We’re here to help.