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Trust is a Must: Five Strategies to Build Trust Using Your CX Program

How trusting are you of people? Now, what if I asked how trusting you are of businesses? I have a hunch your answer may have shifted. As customer experience professionals, we need to understand why trust matters to customers and what can be done to build it.

Enter Dan Ariely, professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University. In The Trust Factory, he outlines five key mechanisms that boost trust and how businesses can apply them. Taking it a step further, I share my take on how we can use his findings to build trust through customer experience (CX) initiatives.

Here are the five elements of trust and how you can put them to work in your CX program:

  1. Established Relationships
    Trusted Partner

    Research shows that people trust more when they think their interactions will extend for a longer period of time. However, flashy promotions and the ability to easily shop around on the web can lead to less loyal customers and less trust in suppliers. Now more than ever, companies must foster long-term relationships to maintain trust.

    How to build relationships using your CX strategy:Identify loyal customers through ongoing voice-of-customer research.

    • Recognize loyal customers and reward them with benefits, acknowledgments (think loyalty badges), programs or products to show you appreciate their loyalty.
  2. Transparency
    It’s no secret that transparency helps build trust. Customers like to know what’s going on in a business, and they feel more comfortable knowing company behaviors are being monitored.

    How to improve transparency using your CX strategy:

    • Encourage all feedback – good and bad – and make it easy for customers to provide it.
    • Share your findings with customers – outline what you are doing or will be doing to address any shortcomings.
  3. Intentionality
    People judge based on the underlying reasons behind a decision. That’s why intentionality plays a critical role in building trust. Customers want assurance that business decisions are intentional and well thought out.

    How to demonstrate intentionality using your CX strategy:

    • Provide the explanation behind your decisions – if you base decisions on your CX research, let your customers know!
    • Use existing or future CX communications to demonstrate that your actions align with customer values.
  4. Revenge
    Somewhat surprisingly, revenge contributes to building trust. When the possibility for revenge – or the ability to provide feedback, reviews, etc. – exists, it reduces the sense that one party (the business) has more control than the other (the customer). Allowing for “revenge” can help increase customer trust.

    How to enable revenge using your CX strategy:

    • Devise a voice-of-customer survey, online tool or feedback forum that easily allows customers to share their thoughts.
    • Promise customers something upfront if you fail to meet obligations. This could be the promise of free product returns if expectations are not met or even a free product or service to make up for it.
  5. Aligned Incentives
    Playing the role of an adviser, rather than just a seller of a product or service, can be powerful in building trust. When companies recommend things clearly not in their best interest (i.e. recommending a less expensive offering), incentives become aligned with the customer. This creates trust in company intentions. 

    How to establish aligned incentives using your CX strategy:

    • Have salespeople, account managers and other customer-facing staff encourage customers to provide their feedback, especially any negative feedback they may have.
    • Offer customers simple ways to compare your products or services with those of competitors – take it a step further by allowing customers to provide feedback on competitors in your voice-of-customer surveys. 

Now that we know the five key mechanisms of trust, you might still be asking, “Why does this matter?” Well, research indicates that greater customer trust leads to greater customer loyalty. And we all know greater loyalty can have a big impact on your business. What can you be doing today to boost trust through your CX program?

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