Customer Trust Must Be Earned

Organizations rely on many forms of metrics when it comes to evaluating the customer experience and ultimately winning customers over. The measurements span all sorts of customer data, such as purchase history and previous interactions, as well as more personal information like demographics, preferences, and even search terms.

However, as data breaches and hacks become ever more common, an old saying comes to mind: “To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.” Organizations must first earn a customer’s trust before they feel comfortable enough to hand over their personal data. If that information is misused, there can be grave ramifications.

In an age where data can be compromised by cyberattacks, how can organizations collect and store the data they need to provide the customer experience people expect, while also maintaining a level of trust?

Transparency Is Key to Dispelling Doubt

In a survey conducted by Verint and Opinium Research—in collaboration with IDC—we asked more than 24,000 consumers in 12 countries about their attitudes toward customer service. The study revealed that trust and transparency are the keys to building a good customer experience. While the vast majority (80 percent) of consumers demand service that is personalized to them and their needs, skepticism about how their data will be used is widespread. An overwhelming 89 percent said they want to know how secure their personal information is when dealing with an organization. Additionally, 86 percent said it is important for companies to let customers know if their data will be passed on to third parties for marketing purposes.

Organizations have only a very small window of time to win over customers’ trust, particularly online. Transparency is the key to building trust and therefore winning over customers. If organizations don’t get this right, they could face a customer exodus. When requesting information from customers, you must let them know exactly how their data will be used and stored, as well as publicize the benefits—improved customer service, more relevant offers, discounts. Customers must also have the ability to opt into initiatives that use their data, particularly when third parties are involved. A clear and well-publicized privacy and data policy also helps to build trust in these situations.

Companies must be highly vigilant when it comes to ensuring that customer data is kept secure. If you wait until you think you have been breached, it will be far too late. Research from Verizon’s RISK team reveals that 92 percent of data breaches are detected by someone else besides the target and typically months after the attack has taken place. Organizations must have a proactive threat detection mechanism in place, one that includes robust security systems and infrastructure that is constantly reviewed and updated.

Having these systems alone will not help build customer trust; they must be supported by a clear communications strategy. Customers want to know what steps organizations are taking to keep their data safe, and they want constant updates in the event that a breach takes place. Getting the communications right can be the difference between building and keeping customers’ trust, or losing them forever.

Businesses Know the Stakes Are High

The demand for personalized service across all channels has increased by more than 54 percent since we asked consumers in a similar study in 2015. Organizations have clearly upped their game in the past few years in terms of communicating the benefits of allowing them to collect customer data. As a result, customers are becoming more aware of the value of their personal data and are willing to provide it to organizations for the right price.

Businesses seem to understand the role that trust and transparency plays in building positive relationships with customers. Ninety-four percent of the 1,000 businesses we polled as part of our global study agreed that it is important to inform customers that their data is being kept secure. Additionally, 96 percent say they understand the need to tell customers if their data will be passed on to third parties for marketing purposes.

High standards in security, trust, and transparency need to be maintained, as one misstep with a customer’s data can have disastrous effects. If businesses continue to build upon a foundation of trust, and invest in systems to keep customer data safe, they are on the path to success. By doing so, they can provide a customer experience that is seamless, engaging, and, more importantly, helps them to stand out in a highly competitive marketplace.

Marije Gould is the vice president of marketing, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), at Verint Systems. Supporting Verint’s portfolio of customer engagement solutions across EMEA, Gould is responsible for developing the marketing strategy, which includes demand generation, driving awareness, and developing Verint’s customer and partner marketing initiatives throughout the region. Follow and engage with Gould on Twitter @MarijeGould.

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