30 January 2019 - Graham Carroll

Building Trust into the Customer Experience

Trust is critical to creating a positive user or customer experience, particularly on digital channels. But it takes trust to create trust — and that’s not always easy…

The level of trust we hold in society, in general, is always changing. There’s been a collapse of trust in many places — governments, the media, fake news, advertising, Brexit, etc.

Edelman has just published their 2019 Trust Barometer, and it reveals some pretty interesting data in that people’s trust has shifted most notably towards their employers.

Here’s a stat for you to chew on from the report:

“Globally, 75% of people trust “my employer” to do what is right — significantly more than NGOs (57%), business (56%) and media (47%)”

trust barometer
There’s a 16-point gap between the more trusting ‘Informed Public’ and the far-more-sceptical Mass Population, marking a return to record highs of trust differences.

Building Trust with your Customers

So how does this relate to creating trust with our customers?

In business, there’s been a rebalancing of the relationship between organisations and their customers for some time. Customers now hold knowledge and power in their hands — simply by what they say about their experience of your product, and we see this play out in real time on review sites and social media posts.

We say here that ‘your customer’s goals should be your goals’. Think about that for a moment… if your commercial objectives don’t take account of your customer’s needs then you’ve got a problem.

“It takes Trust to establish Trust”

High on the list of trusted sources is the good old word-of-mouth referral. By focussing more of your attention on existing customers and users, there is an opportunity for them to become your advocates – doing this will, in turn, add more power to your marketing.

How do we re-establish that trust? What are the things that allow us to measure trust?

In the digital world, here are some of the things that count most:

  • Promoting positive online reviews and testimonials.
  • Clear communication: show you’ve thought of the user, use language that you know resonates with them.
  • Your website: it should be fast, well designed, secure, and easy to find information.
  • Highlight the key People involved in the business.
  • Be consistent with your service and product design.
  • Open and transparent privacy — a good opportunity to earn trust.
  • Advertise your work and who you work with.

Of course, there’s nothing new here and we’ve been banging the drum on these things for some time.

Ease-of-use, speed, convenience, accuracy and honesty all play a part in creating a positive user experience. But we need to engage much more with the customer and look to improve their experience based on insights and regular feedback.

And therein lies the constant challenge for us as UX practitioners — making the case for the work and process that is necessary to find out what customers really want, and then asking our clients to trust in us to answer those needs.

Building Trust in the UX Process

As UX designers, our job is to create trust with your customers.

We do this by finding out what they actually want; using research, data analytics, sample surveys and focus groups. (Read Dave’s post on why research is so important).

The hard part is convincing our own customers and clients first. For example, we are often invited to closed tenders that don’t include scope for research, or we are pitching for projects where we’re asked for creative without having access to an audience or user information.

Too often businesses make sweeping assumptions on what their customers really want, and this is largely led by commercial objectives and exec level opinions. But in reality, it’s almost impossible to effectively connect with your customers when you don’t actually fully understand what their needs are.

Our answer to overcoming these challenges lies in us providing education and fact-based evidence to challenge our customers, and then work to get that buy-in (trust) from their stakeholders.

Building trust takes effort — creating a good user experience isn’t just about boosting sales and winning design awards. It’s about building a real relationship with your customers where you deliver value that will endure beyond what you simply say, or whatever channels and platforms you build.

Maintaining trust demands a commitment from businesses to keep earning it from their customers across all touch points.

So for our clients, it’s our responsibility to educate them on the advantage of good UX, and the evidence and process they need to trust and engage in. Watch what happens when you build a customer-centric approach into your strategy.

It takes trust to create trust.

Thanks for reading.

I’ll be talking more about trust and UX at the 3XE User Experience Design Thinking conference in Dublin on May 16th 2019. Check it out here

You can download the Edelman 2019 Trust Barometer directly here (very interesting geopolitical metrics).