Rising customer expectations in an increasingly transparent age have permanently altered the competitive landscape, according to Dr Martha Rogers, a US author, speaker and customer experience (CX) expert.
“Transparency is something we can’t avoid,” Dr Rogers says. “It is like disinfectant for business – it will clean it, but first it will sting like hell.”
Speaking at the 2018 Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) annual conference in Adelaide this month, Rogers discussed the importance of trustability in CX and outlined five steps on how to attain it.
Dr Rogers framed what she considers the key strategic issue for CX as a question: ‘What can you do now to make your customers more loyal and valuable even though your competitors will eventually do the same thing, the same way?’
The answer to this question comes down to data, Dr Rogers says.
“It is about doing things for our customers because we know them better than anyone else does,” she says.
Acquiring that knowledge is something that is greatly aided by technology. For example, brands can use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning to predict pain points and or remember their shopping preferences.
Being trustable is about more than just having your customers’ like you; it has a serious impact on business performance. Dr Rogers’ research has found that customers who believe a company is trustable are more likely to exhibit a number of compelling tendencies including; paying more for certain services, requiring lower cost to service, providing word-of-mouth endorsement and forgiving honest mistakes.
“Customer strategy is building the value of the company by building the value of the customer base,” she says.
To illustrate her point, Dr Rogers gave the example of Amazon.
In 1996, when Amazon was in the midst of a 28-quarter net profit losing streak, Jeff Bezos turned down a buyout offer from Barnes and Noble. Flash forward to today and Barnes and Noble has a market cap of around half a billion. Amazon is at just under a trillion.
“Barnes and Noble is a very good product-orientated company trying to find customers,” Dr Rogers says. “Amazon is completely different, they are a customer-orientated company finding us products.”
Dr Rogers says that the transition towards being customer-orientated should have every business on the planet thinking about how to improve CX.
“If you have no customers, you don’t have a business, you have a hobby,” she says.
On building trustability: do things right, do the right thing, and with all the technology we have, do those things proactively. If you become more trustable, you become more profitable as well. @Martha_Rogers #asfaconference pic.twitter.com/MvVXbKE2pG— ASFA (@asfaAUST) November 14, 2018
When it comes to building the trustability that lies at the foundation of a customer-orientated strategy, Dr Rogers outlines five key steps.
#1 Do the right thing, proactively
Acknowledge that customers are not only worth something this quarter but for the long term. If you do something that drives them away, you have lost something incredibly valuable.
#2 Do things right
Ensure a quality product or service that is delivered on time, well-executed and reasonably priced. You have to be at least as good as every competitor out there.
#3 Remember customers and predict on their behalf
Continuously improve IT systems and maintain an up-to-date customer analytics and business intelligence capability. Understand your customers better than anybody else can.
#4 Hold “fire drills” on what to do in a crisis
Maintain robust voice-of-customer feedback and interconnection mechanisms using the strongest tech available. You should be listening all the time (and across every channel) and be prepared in the event of a PR crisis.
#5 Create and foster a culture of trustability
Provide “stewardship” for customer relationships and have someone in your organisation responsible for customers. Engage and enable employees and nurture the ones that are fully onboard with the company’s mission. Encourage a corporate culture based on “trustability” from the top down.
Dr Rogers said that there are also a few shortcuts to creating trustability.
These include the provision of objective counsel such as a “rate comparison” tool, transparency such as reminders to customers when their rates are about to increase and the proactive sending of refunds when required.
Dr Rogers’ appearance at the ASFA conference comes at a time when Australia’s financial industry tries to recover some of the trust it lost following the revelations of The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.
Over the course of the hearings, major Australian financial institutions including the nation’s ‘big four’ banks have admitted to misinforming customers about home loans, credit cards and financing, charging fees for no service, intentionally misleading the regulator and administration errors resulting in the loss of customer data.
Dr Rogers closed the session by offering the domain www.trustablesuperannuation.org to the audience of super fund delegates with the condition that they work together to set it up.
As noted by Fifth Quadrant, the importance of trust in CX cannot be overstated. According to the Harris Poll, which has been quantifying reputation rankings of US companies since 1999, 80 per cent of respondents see trust as the top issue impacting reputation.
Is your company or organisation fostering a culture of trustability? Contact Fifth Quadrant today to find out more about measuring and improving your trustability with your most valuable asset: your customers.