Building And Maintaining Digital Trust And Brand Loyalty: A Three-Step Process

Benjamin Herrmann

Businesses that successfully achieve digital transformation don’t just complete it overnight. Transformation has many key components and best practices, and it’s a continuous process. When it is achieved, digital enterprises have the opportunity to prosper, build customer trust, and maintain brand loyalty.

As we engage with customers through more digital channels, maintaining their trust becomes paramount to keeping your business afloat and prosperous. In recent years, customer trust – specifically through digital channels – has fallen low. Looking at the long list of breaches, cyber hacks, and misuses of customer data by large corporations (Facebook, British Airways, and Marriott come to mind), it’s not hard to understand customers’ hesitation.

Parallel to these issues, companies are relying more and more on digital channels to connect with their customers and drive B2B commerce. After all, buying online and talking to chatbots (e.g., Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, and Google Assistant) are societal norms. With this in mind, it’s critical for enterprises to take a step back and look at the ways they are building customer trust – from tapping into the right customer data in a way that doesn’t cross privacy laws, to prioritizing transparency and individualized support tailored to each customer.

This article discusses three best practices for B2B digital enterprises to reshape the way they build customer trust and maintain brand loyalty.

Rule #1: Respect customer privacy

With privacy laws such as GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act popping up to add extra layers of security in the ever-changing digital landscape, it’s clear that respecting consumer privacy is top of mind in all aspects of society. That said, the responsibility for brands to create a personalized experience for each customer – without falling over the “creepy” line – is still prevalent.

The goal with respecting customer privacy while creating a personalized experience is to show consumers that you’re committed to respecting the relationship they have with your brand. While businesses have mounds of data readily available at their fingertips, if a consumer “opts out” of having their data dissected, it’s the enterprise’s responsibility to make sure that consumer feels understood and respected. If the customer starts seeing a tailored experience when they have asked to not receive personalized data, the brand will lose the customer’s trust (and loyalty) in an instant.

On the flip side, if a consumer “opts in” to a tailored digital experience, it’s up to the brand to ensure that it’s the best personalized experience among competitors.

Rule #2: Maintain transparency

Being transparent is one of the most important aspects of building and maintaining a strong foundation of consumer trust and loyalty.

One way to build transparency is by offering free trial periods, which allow customers to know exactly what they’re buying and if it’s truly the right fit for their organization. The saying, “Would you ever buy a car without test driving it first?” applies here.

Offering trial periods for B2B products allows customers to feel confident in their purchase when the trial period comes to an end. Prospects will use this opportunity to evaluate whether or not a product meets the challenges or needs they are seeking to address without needing to make a purchase first. If they decide not to purchase, there are no hard feelings toward your brand – and they may even come back for another trial offering that better fits their needs because of the trust and goodwill built during the trial period.

This shows that you are a transparent brand that respects customers and wants to ensure they receive the best possible experience – regardless of whether they make a purchase. This builds customer trust and brand loyalty.

Rule #3: Be helpful along the entire journey

This should go without saying, but you’d be surprised about how many enterprises are helpful only during the transaction process. Customer service takes many shapes – in-person, over the phone, via online chat features – and during digital sales. It’s vital for consumers to be able to speak with someone at any time.

For the most part, B2C companies do a great job of supporting the entire customer journey and experience, infusing the same support systems for in-person and digital interactions. B2B companies should look to them as models for how to provide exceptional service for digital sales. Moreover, B2B brands are held to an even higher standard for digital support, as their customers are used to the high-touch services of field sales teams.

Today’s generation of digital consumers want quicker, more seamless online options, but brands must not allow service to drop just because the customer is no longer face-to-face with a sales rep. Customers still expect support and guidance throughout their digital journey – and it’s important to show consumers that you are committed to their digital experience. That means if they want to speak to a customer service representative on the phone, your brand should have someone readily available; and if they want zero communication, be sure to respect their privacy.

At the end of the day, customers come to enterprises with a problem in hopes that it can be solved with a service or product, and it’s in the brand’s best interest to meet them with a solution that solves their problem and meets (or exceed) their goals, however possible. While there isn’t a blanket strategy that can be utilized by all companies, implementing these three rules can serve as a great starting point to build digital trust and maintain brand loyalty.

This article originally appeared on MarTech Series and is republished by permission.

Benjamin Herrmann

About Benjamin Herrmann

As head of digital commerce for SAP, Benjamin Herrmann is responsible for developing the digital direct sales channel at SAP across products, professional services, and education. Dedicated to helping customers become best-run businesses, Herrmann has established himself as a leader in B2B digital business models. Prior to his current role, Herrmann was senior director of strategy for SAP Portfolio & Pricing, where he ran board-level change programs. He also worked as an enterprise business architect and lead business architect in the Business Transformation Office for PricewaterhouseCoopers, and served as a lecturer on Information Systems at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.