David Foggin: Trust Builds Brand Loyalty
David Foggin Director of TDA writes in The Guardian…
We hear the T word everywhere. It is used about people, places, things and relationships. It is used as a verb, a noun and an adjective. Trust can be built and trust can be demolished. The former takes a long time, the latter, a heartbeat.
Trust sounds like something subjective – a feeling, a sense or an experience – but, it is more than that. Trust is a process.
As a process it can be deconstructed, learned and incorporated into how we build relationships between customers and brands. Research by Maister and Green (Harvard Business School) reveals that when your brand has credibility, reliability, intimacy and low self-orientation – then you can expect an increase in satisfied customers and improved retention – loyal brand consumers who come back for more and tell others about their experience. If you are a commercial brand this directly translates into increased revenue and profit.
Some brands understand this – in my experience best practice is displayed across a variety of sectors; Naked Wines being one example. The e-commerce brand builds credibility by providing a platform to talk directly to the wine-makers. They have a superb tone of voice and a customer relationship management (CRM) system that always delivers on the promised date. The Naked Wines loyalty program rewards “angels” (loyal investors) by discounting wine, announcing new wines to them first and holding personalised regional pop-up tastings.
Customers score the wines via a blog and interact with each other. Whether you shop or browse on a smartphone, tablet or online the experience is consistent and instantly recognisable as Naked Wines. It has opened a waiting list for new angels, and profits and revenue have exceeded all expectations with an announcement that annual group sales are up 67% earlier this year.
Meanwhile in the financial services sector, LV= is a shining light. Following a rebrand from Liverpool Victoria to LV= and a £30m annual marketing spend, the brand blends online with direct contact in a seamless way. Their email marketing, social media, website and contact centre communications have a consistent tone of voice. The customer journey is natural, easy, relevant and helpful – not hard sell. The brand is visible across all channels and the content is written for clarity and to comply with financial services authority guidelines on best practice. This is not an easy task but is well accomplished.
The CRM at the heart of their service offer provides each customer with an intimate and accurate experience.
Debenhams also understands the trust equation. It shows uniformity of brand design across all channels and social media, which leads to credibility. Its online shop is easy and tablet/smartphone friendly (channel appropriate) and it has strong social presence and positive third party endorsements via blogs and social media.
Debenhams has its own app for online shopping and features high in search engine listings. It also rewards existing customers via a loyalty programme.
CRM is used to track purchases, returns and recommend similar items and there’s e-mail to registered customers. A healthy and active social media profile (primarily Facebook) and independent blogging sites are key.
Lastly Jet2, owned by The Dart Group, is a good example from the travel sector. The brand is easily found and ranks highly on Google for flights, holidays and package deals. The content is jargon-free, relevant and the brand has a consistent tone of voice across all channels including social media and its app. The website booking process is fast, intuitive and features responsive design – customised to the user’s access method – tablet, smartphone or website.
The airline is one of the best for punctuality in the travel sector – it is reliable – and social media posts testify to this. Meanwhile intimacy is demonstrated via its loyalty club (points awarded for miles travelled) which is easy to understand and redeem – calendars show the flights available for redemption.
There is also low self-orientation: the face-to-face experience on board, at check-in and departure is brand consistent and has the same tone – easily lost when many people are involved. The approach is paying off – retained profits are up nearly 40% (2013 on 2012).
For those brands trying to win trust, it is a step-by-step process but the pillars of credibility – reliability, intimacy and low self-orientation – are a good place to start. Any brand experience should build deep, seamless and lasting connections between customer and brand. And trust should translate into commercial gain.