In a digital-first post-pandemic world, consumer expectations and needs are evolving fast. While businesses used to be seen solely as institutions that provide goods and services, customers now also expect them to provide a seamless customer experience and be driven by purpose and values.
In this accelerated digital era, businesses must remain agile to the needs of their customer base. Brand loyalty is no longer enough, and companies must not only continue to optimize their CX, but also exhibit strong ethical and environmental values to retain customers.
The evolution of trust and loyalty in customer-brand relationships
Trust is the most important currency in today’s business landscape. In a rapidly changing world, customers need full confidence that companies have the intent and capability to address their needs and expectations.
The latest Edelman Trust Barometer indicates that consumers are looking to businesses to lead in times of uncertainty. Companies that align to a customer’s values can seal the deal against the competition. When values are misaligned, customers are not hesitant to change.
But it’s not just about value alignment, businesses must ensure they practice what they preach when it comes to ethical and sustainable practices. Retaining trust is just as important as building it, and authenticity is crucial in maintaining an engaged customer base.
Ultimately, though trust is rising, there is room for improvement. Building a company that has strong values and can thrive in a trust based economy is a crucial part in any long-term business strategy.
Meeting the challenges of personalization
Amid accelerated digital transformation and purchase personalization, an increasing number of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs when purchasing online.
However, this comes at a cost. The optimization of new digital business models and scaling personalized services both hinge on data. And with increased data comes the need for reassurance around privacy.
This presents a balancing act. On one hand, customer data is needed to build trust, since it underlies functionality that addresses customer needs. But given consequences of data misuse (security breaches and invasive marketing practices), customers understandably are cautious when it comes to trusting companies with their data.
In a world where consumers want both personalization and privacy, companies must only collect the personal information that they actually need, driving transparency around data protection to ensure consumers feel like they are in safe hands.
Consumers are reassessing their relationships
Amidst evolving personal priorities, the rising cost of living and global supply chain issues, according to the Salesforce report, a majority of consumers have either switched to new brands or are considering doing so.
Gone are the days of unwavering brand loyalty, in an ever changing geopolitical and economic landscape, convenience is king for consumers.
This presents both an opportunity and a danger for brands, as they have new ways to reach people but are also at risk of shaking up existing relationships and loyalties.
Tactics like loyalty programmes, social media engagement and personalized email marketing, can incentivise retention amongst regular customers. On a larger level, brands can bolster customer loyalty by not only selling through retailers but also selling directly to the end consumer.
By using a mix of digital channels and retention tactics to drive consideration, brands can continue to foster a relationship with their existing customer base, while also expanding their reach and revenue.
Keeping customer connection flexible
When engaging with companies, customers seek out flexibility and ease, and so are leaning into digital channels and online experiences to ensure quick and efficient communication.
This isn’t a one size fits all approach. From service teams for example, customers expect immediate responses from informed agents, but also self-service options for easily resolved queries. But many, notably older, less tech-savvy generations, still demand human-to-human business connections.
Getting CX right is important. In fact, customers say it builds trust when companies can proactively resolve issues without their involvement at all, and a majority of customers say receiving quality customer service makes them more likely to purchase again.
In a hybrid world, companies must offer services that cater to their wide and diverse customer clientele, only then will businesses continue to grow trust within their customer base, while also ensuring efficiency.
The benefits of balance
Companies can no longer rely on their products and experiences to ensure customer loyalty. Trust and convenience, as well as exhibiting value driven leadership is imperative to ensure retention.
Ultimately, businesses must seek to find the right balance between trust, data, personalization, loyalty and the customer experience to enable fast growth, and work towards a successful – and profitable – future.