Revelations from the Royal Commission into banking have shattered consumer confidence, the unsteady wake of Brexit has left the UK bruised and a surprise meeting between the US President and the North Korean Supreme Leader has built tentative talks of nuclear disarmament between the two long-term enemies. It’s difficult to predict what might happen next, admits Megan Brownlow, telecommunications, media & technology (TMT) national industry leader at PwC Australia.
“It’s getting harder to forecast your futures and it’s not that we all change in a flash, it’s just that there are more black swans now. When we looked at the research across three different consumer environments – physical, digital and mobile – it was very clear that trust or the absence of trust drives consumer behaviour,” says Brownlow. In physical retail, consumers shopped at brands they trusted. In the online realm, survey respondents said they reduced online risk by only using credible sites and payment providers they trusted. And in the mobile segment, 86% of users indicated they would act punitively – “deleting your app, warning family and friends, leaving a negative review” – if they had trust concerns.
The message is clear: whether or not consumers trust your brand will determine whether or not you’re likely to succeed in the coming years.
Brownlow says it’s important to note that trust is a mix of different traits and that consumers weigh each of them differently. The four pillars of this framework are Advocacy, Consistency, Transparency and Success.
Advocacy: Are you acting in my best interests?
Consistency: Have you proved credible before? “This is a great benefit for incumbent businesses, traditional media, because you have legacy and history where you’ve proved credible before,” Brownlow mentions.
Transparency: Do I really understand what you’re doing?
Success: “This is a capability question, where they assess you based on whether or not they think you have what it takes to achieve their goals,” she explains.
The higher you score on each of the questions, the stronger your trust assets. Trust, however, is complex. Weakness in one pillar can be traded off for strength in another, Brownlow notes. An example of that in action is the financial Royal Commission. The revelations have not resulted in an exodus of consumers changing their banks, even though customers are unhappy with the industry’s untrustworthy behaviour. “If people are sticking, it’s because those organisations have rated higher on other pillars. They’ve proved credible before. Or it’s believed they have capability, they meet the goals of the consumer.”
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