Trust is a commodity in business, or so the saying goes. But, if we take that statement at face value, trust is merely a means to store brand value, which can be exchanged readily with consumers and at will. Maybe it’s time to redefine the notion of trust as a true business asset that needs to be protected and harnessed like intellectual property, product inventory, or branding.
Google Australia’s managing director, Jason Pellegrino put it this way: “Without trust, our business doesn’t exist.” In a world where trust is eroding at an alarming rate, what are the areas you can take control of to regain consumer confidence and shine your brand in a positive light?
User experience as a model for trust
Apart from the obvious - like avoiding scandal and carrying out unethical practices - one of the most effective ways to build trust with your consumers is through effective user experience(UX). Building exceptional experiences for your customers every time they interact with your brand will help to nurture an invisible trust that resonates, builds loyalty, and increases customer lifetime value.
Companies like Google, Apple, Lego, Adidas and Disney topped the rankings of RepTrak's list of most reputable companies worldwide in 2018 - and one thing they have in common is they create brand experiences that resonate with users. Another top company on the list was Netflix.
Netflix is widely credited with starting the UX revolution. As a company, it's done more than embrace UX, it has taken it to a whole new level and made it part of the core philosophy of the entire business. Their whole reason for its existence is based on giving people a better way to watch the content they love – and in the process it has disrupted an entire industry. The results speak for themselves. In many markets around the world, such as the UK, it tops the lists for the most loved and trusted brands. And why? Simply put, it’s because Netflix put the needs of its users ahead of its business.
When done well, UX is seamless, invisible and taken for granted. When it's done badly, it’s painfully obvious and can be a barrier to consumers interacting with your brand in a positive way. Good UX is simple and looks good. Bad UX is cumbersome and ugly. Excellent UX is satisfying and a joy to use. Terrible UX frustrates and angers. The best UX is completely integrated into the brand experience. The worst UX is a complete afterthought.
Make sure you're thinking about your users, their journey, and the interactions they have with your brand on every platform. Do everything you can to create an experience that looks good, feels good, and is fit for purpose. User centricity should be your mantra.
Trust is transparent
Don’t forget, UX doesn’t just cover design, it’s about being upfront with users on how their data is being used. With the advent of GDPR, this is extremely topical and an area that many brands are wrestling with. Some have even said that data transparency is the single biggest vehicle to building consumer trust.
While users want exceptional experiences, they also want transparent ones. Pre-ticked boxes are a no-go, neither is hiding the small print and key legal provisions within pages of jargon. The most transparent brands take their data obligations and make them as simple and digestible as possible, communicating key messaging like T&Cs through effective design and putting the user in control. Most users are willing to give up some of their data if it means a better experience overall, and the brands that do this best can then create seamless personalisation at scale.
The elephant in the room
If we now understand that good UX and transparency creates positive experiences, and positive transparent experiences build trust, then surely user centricity drives growth.
According to DMI, design-led companies have outperformed the S&P by 228% over the past 10 years. That’s an incredible figure, highlighting just how valuable design and seamless experiences are in creating loyal, trustful customers. Trust, transparency and user experience need to be a balanced equation.
Companies that embrace their users and look to create transparent, seamless, meaningful experiences at each stage of the consumer journey will do best in the new world dominated by the likes of Netflix, Amazon, Lego and Adidas. Those who see good UX as an afterthought will fall behind.
There’s a fine line between great design and failure, so your best bet is to test, learn, fail fast, and limit the impacts of failure. Trust is something that is earned over time, but can be lost in an instant. So, if you focus on one thing for your brand, make sure it's on building brilliant, transparent user experiences that build trust like the asset it truly is.
IProspect national head of experience, Guy Jarvie