Consumers today are more conscious and often base their buying decisions on more than price alone. So how do they feel about companies with meaningful reputations? And what exactly makes some companies more meaningful then others? We explore the current state of relationships between consumers and businesses, and advise how to bridge that trust gap. The relationship between consumers and brands is a simple yet complex affair, a relationship that is built on both trust and value. When consumers trust a brand they are, understandably, more likely to follow the brands’ activity, which goes to show that if you want people to try more, buy more and pay more, then eliminating the trust gap goes a long way to get customers onside. This takes time to build, but establishing a strong brand reputation and messaging will ensure your audience know what you stand for and can ultimately help increase sales margins. Importance of brand messaging Brand identity is important. In the past, products and services were often perceived as the face of the company, but that is no longer the case, as products have life cycles – enabling brands to outlive or evolve from most well-known products. It’s now the brand that dictates the success of a product or a service – in fact, our research shows UK shoppers are now willing to pay up to ten per cent more for the same products, just to purchase them from a responsible brand. With consumer spend reaching an all-time high of more than £300m towards the end of last year, and growth of a further 1.7 per cent predicted for 2017, that’s an extra £30m in potential profit that brands could be cashing in on. These figures show that a brand’s identity is almost paramount to its success on the market. So what tools and techniques do they need to do this? Using cross-channel business models Businesses should look to capitalise on the use of cross-channel solutions at their disposal to reach conscious consumer. – Omnichannel appointments Establishing a strong omnichannel strategy will be the key to reaching your customers and making them feel appreciated by communicating with them through more than one platform. Having a strong mobile marketing strategy, a well-designed website and engaging social media campaigns are great examples of a coherent, aligned experience across multiple platforms that will surely cement your brands reputation. Our own research into customer behaviour indicated Millennials were most willing to pay more for products if the brands had a good digital presence, with 69 per cent listing it as their preference. – Personalise the customer experience Personalisation is an important aspect of the customer service strategy, as it is the one thing impacts customer loyalty and advocacy the most. Catering to and delivering bespoke content to customers will increase their desire to bond and affiliate with your brand, making them feel like more than just a number. – Let data drive relationships It’s no surprise that data is shaping the future of business, as interactions with customers create a wealth of data points ready for analysis. Brands that fail to take advantage of consumer data to shape customer experiences will be at a serious disadvantage. It helps you understand the behaviour of customers, gives insight into their buying habits and can even predict the customer’s next move – all of which can vastly improve the customer experience. How you collect data and what you use it for highlights your brand’s values. Brand reputation matters When it comes to making a purchase, some of us consider cost, whilst others focus on quality. For the majority of us, it comes down to who we know and who we feel a sense of loyalty to – those brands that have managed to bridge the trust gap. At a time when consumers have more options than ever, what companies bring to market is less important than how they bring their products and services into the marketplace. By aligning values with actions, companies can close the trust gap with conscious consumers and reap the rewards of deeper relationships, enduring loyalty and a growing customer base. Our research shows that 77 per cent of consumers prefer to purchase from a trustworthy company with a good reputation. With 90 per cent of consumers most likely to trust a company that supports social and environmental issues, businesses should keep the customers’ interest at the forefront of their business model, especially as there is no better time than now for brands to engage and target those conscious consumers to reap the rewards. Your brand’s reputational value is irreplaceable, so make sure it’s well protected. Henry Thompson is director of customer success at Zendesk
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