At Salesforce, trust has always been a core value. With the ability to significantly impact every area of business, trust translates to a responsibility to communicate openly with customers, and use technology wisely in order to protect client data. In a rapidly changing world, this value has become even more critical – with trust emerging as the foundation for robust customer-brand relationships.
The fifth edition of the Salesforce State of the Connected Customer Report reveals that customer expectations of brands are further heightened during periods of uncertainty or rapid evolution, leading to an increased emphasis on trust. The report surveyed 17,000 consumers and business buyers across 29 countries, including 500 respondents from India. Globally, as many as 88% of the respondents stated that trust becomes more important in times of change. Among respondents in India, this number was as high as 95%.
Trust: An imperative in the changing business landscape
The Salesforce State of the Connected Customer Report highlights how vital trust is in buyer-seller relationships and the link between customer trust and enterprise profit-making. Some of the key findings of the report include: Clearly, brands must work towards building trust at all touchpoints of the customer journey. You must recreate the essence and integrity of face-to-face interactions to create high-affinity brand communities even in a virtual commerce environment. But how can you do so?
Enhance customer trust through five simple steps
Through business, product, and service attributes that signal high levels of integrity, you can build high-on-trust customer relationships. Here are five actions that let you build trust easily.
Action #1: Communicate honestly and transparently
A brand should ensure authentic and consistent messaging around its operations and activities, and its commitment to positive social impact, sustainability, and overall values. Communication should also be two-way; an honest business admits its errors and is open with its clients. Handle negative feedback gracefully and keep your customers in the loop about how you are fixing your mistakes.
Action #2: Use customer information responsibly
Clearly explain how and why you are collecting customer data and how it helps you create a better experience for them. Also, create a culture of ethical data management – establishing guardrails around your data and deploying need-based access, using updated software and sensitising your teams on how to maximise data security are starting points.
Action #3: Treat customers as people, not numbers
An effective way in which you can ensure your customers feel seen and valued is by leveraging CRM technology that aids personalisation at all levels. Using an effective CRM, you can use customer data-driven insights to redesign every aspect of your business – from product and marketing to shopping experience and customer service – to create personalised offerings and experiences.
Action #4: Resolve issues proactively
Identifying and resolving client issues early on is the goal of proactive customer service. To ensure proactive customer service, your brand should be available across multiple communication channels 24×7. Use chatbots to respond to common questions or, when necessary, refer customers to human representatives.
Another way to identify common concerns among different customer groups is by leveraging social media monitoring tools to listen to what your customers are saying about you. Online feedback forms or surveys help with the same, and you can then accordingly provide proactive support to address customer challenges.
Self-help options are another important customer service option. Create a knowledge base for your customers by adding articles, FAQ sections, step-by-step manuals or video tutorials to your website which can help customers resolve problems on their own.
Action #5: Communicate proactively
If you only send out business-specific communication, customers quickly associate your brand with low-affinity, transactional relationships. Elevate the quality of your customer relationships by actively reaching out to your audience on all platforms they are present on, engaging them in conversations about critical issues and forging omnichannel connections. A proactive strategy helps you anticipate problems before they happen, prepare for them and control the narrative and messaging around them – crucial factors in building customer trust.
Although it may seem simple, the best approach for businesses to earn people’s trust is by being honest and upfront. Consistent integrity and truthfulness are the basis upon which companies can build trusted consumer connections, and they need to showcase these values at every touchpoint, on every channel.
Want to know more about building customer trust effectively to drive high-value relationships?
Click here to download the Salesforce State of the Connected Customer Report.