Recently, there have been a lot of conversations about privacy and trust, most notably the news that political data firm Cambridge Analytica gained access to private information about Facebook users to help influence voters in the 2016 election. This breakdown of privacy raises the broader issue in our technologically dependent world: organizations of all sizes need to focus more on establishing and maintaining trusting and authentic relationships with their clients.
Over the past two decades, we have seen a major shift in the way technology has influenced how our clients make their decisions. Customers value good service, but a foundation of trust is essential — and trust depends on authentic, personal relationships. Consumers engage with platforms and companies that they trust to not only keep their information safe and secure, but to provide a transparent, friendly, and customer-centric experience. This shift is being called the relationship economy.
As technology continues to mature, it will become even more imperative for organizations to embrace the relationship economy by prioritizing consumer trust. Here are three ways companies can shift their focus onto customers:
As companies scale, it’s often necessary to turn to automation to communicate with customers. The key to using automation for customer communication is to make it as authentic as possible and pair it with real-life interaction. Using automation tools like Intercom and Drift to engage customers in conversations is a great step towards authenticity, which is a great way to build trust and start a relationship.
Customer service shouldn’t be an afterthought, it needs to be integrated into the sales process to make sure customers have a seamless and pleasant experience from the first point of contact through the end of their customer journey so customers are more likely to come back and to make recommendations to friends and family. Good service means return customers, which is good for the bottom line: It can cost anywhere from 5 to 25 times less to retain a customer than to acquire a new one.
Mistakes happen, people know that. That’s why companies who respond to those mistakes with authentic and open communication can not only save face, but can even strengthen a relationship with their customers. Taking responsibility and being proactive and transparent are key. Apologizing when necessary, and taking action to correct the mistake are good steps to regaining customer loyalty when you make a misstep.
Welcome to the relationship economy where making personal connections and building trust is now our most valuable currency. As the need to scale the relationship-building component of your business grows, new tools and platforms are necessary to help maintain personal privacy while building stronger relationships between people. In a way, we are rediscovering what we always knew: that relationships matter, even in the 21st century. The companies and organizations that put their relationships first will be the ones to succeed.