During Cincinnati’s recent BrandHUB launch, we had the opportunity to hear Guy Kawasaki speak. His second pillar of enchantment, trustworthiness, struck a chord of relevance with us, especially to building brand trust. Whether you’re an individual or a business, trust is integral to success. To build trust, you first need to extend trust; then, follow it up by modeling trust through authentic and transparent customer communications. Here are three guidelines:
1. Be authentic and transparent. Increasingly, customers are drawn to “Human” brands. Coca-Cola’s Senior Vice President of Integrated Marketing Communications, Wendy Clark, suggests that brands can be more human by embracing their flaws, and the term Clark uses for these authentic customer relationships is, “Flawsome.” To build trust, own up to your flaws, be human and open about your brand challenges and strengths, and personalize your customer response as much as possible.
2. Leverage social media for customer service and engagement. Social media can be used to deliver responsive and personalized customer support that builds customer and brand trust. Twitter is being used by many brands in the Interbrand Top 100 to help field service and support requests, and several of these brands have dedicated a group within customer service to exclusively field Twitter support requests. Additionally, direct customer interaction through customer communities can build brand trust and equity. According to a MarketingProfs conversation with the founders of The Community Roundtable, customer communities are often leveraged to engage customers in three core activities: brand advocacy and awareness; customer support; and innovation. The more relationship-building strides you make in these areas, the more trusting your customer relationships will become.
3. Be consistent. Every customer interaction is an opportunity to build positive or negative brand equity, and your information systems and technologies need to support the end goal of maximizing positive customer impressions across all touch points (also known as “trust points”). Marketing technology systems can help to streamline and coordinate the customer response, enabling agile and consistent brand impressions. While consistent brand messaging across all communications channels, including employee communications, builds credibility, misalignment between corporate and line-level employee messaging can lead to communications inconsistencies that diminish customer trust: Therefore, it’s important to empower your employees with the information they need to become passionate brand advocates in the digital age.
Whether you field support requests through Twitter or leverage customer communities to respond to support requests, engage customers in your innovation process, or simply seek to be more transparent and “Human” in your marketing communications altogether, marketing technologies are being used in creative ways to build customer and brand trust. Marketing technology systems such as marketing resource management systems can help to build trust by delivering streamlined and consistent customer communications, while marketing messages can be quickly personalized through a web-based approval process.
How are you leveraging marketing technologies and processes to humanize your brand?
For more examples of “Human” companies, check out Fast Company’s interview with IDEO communications designer, Elle Luna and stay tuned for our future blogs: Part two of our two-part series on Building Brand Trust and an upcoming Marketing Organizational Leadership interview discussing enterprise social business strategy.