Digital trust: the importance of building trust online

When you are looking at your digital transformation programme one of the core foundations should be how you can create the right atmosphere for customers to digitally trust you. Obviously, your systems need to be secure to protect people’s data and privacy, but what else do you need to do to be viewed as a business earning someone’s digital trust? From a customer’s perspective what’s needed to design a good customer and user experience that eliminates frustration and delivers a clear, easy, and consistent service.

We’ve all seen the shift in customers behaviours, due to the pandemic. In the past year, digital has become the primary customer touchpoint for many organisations. We’ve moved from shopping being a pleasant enjoyable experience to one where 50% of Britons are fearful of social density in indoor shopping according to a recent survey by Fashion Network. Therefore, it is not surprising that we’ve seen a big shift from bricks and mortar to online. Research by eMarketer found that across Western Europe ecommerce sales rose by 26.3%. against a background drop in overall retail sales of 3.6%

Trust – Years to build, seconds to break, forever to repair

Building trust with customers is crucial because trust is a deal breaker, or deciding factor, in customers brand buying decisions. In a recent PwC survey, over 70% of consumers saw trust as the most important factor when buying from a brand

Before we start to explore trust in digital interactions, it is important to define what is trust in business, especially when it’s an online enterprise. Essentially it means that if I deal with you, you will treat me fairly; communicate with me honestly; deliver upon your promises; and be there for me if I need extra help. It’s pretty straightforward and shouldn’t be difficult to do. 

When an online retail or e-commerce business does this well customers become more confident in using the brand and they begin to trust you. If they trust you, they’re more likely to stay loyal, spend more, and recommend you. This is backed up by research from Edelman which shows that when brands build trust consumers reward them: 

  • 75% say they will continue to buy a brand they trust
  • 76% say they always recommend the brand if someone asks
  • More than 50% say they are happy to pay more for a brand’s products/services 
  • 59% say they will continue to buy a product from a trusted brand even if a competitor is getting better reviews

Respecting customers’ time by making interactions fast and easy, being open and honest in the way you communicate and treat them, providing support when they need it, and protecting their data. Doing this in a digital environment can be quite complicated but there are some steps businesses can take to achieve these goals.

Six steps to build digital trust

The cornerstone to building digital trust amongst customers is all about keeping your promises and consistently delivering the basics, brilliantly. Here are six key steps a business can take to design trust into their digital offering:

  1. Capability & reliability – This is all about doing what you promise to do, when you promised to do it every time.
  2. Simplicity & ease – Making your organisation’s digital services frictionless and intuitive, so it’s fast and easy for customers to use, saving them effort and time. 
  3. Transparency – Clearly displaying your contact details so customers can reach you if they need to and ensuring your pricing is transparent with no hidden surprises.
  4. Communications & clarity– Good communication removes doubts, so use plain English and provide consistent and easily locatable information across all of your digital channels.
  5. Accessibility & proactivity – Deliver a seamless, digital omnichannel experience, and let your customers know in advance if there is a problem (i.e. issues with stock availability, delays in processing an order, or in a delivery).
  6. Security & privacy – Customers want to know that your organisation won’t misuse their data by selling it on and that you’ll protect it from being stolen. 

Download the Ultimate Guide to Omnichannel Customer Service

Summary: In a world of data, digital trust will become even more important

To be a business worthy of customers digital trust is quite complex. First, it requires an organisation to have a customer centric mindset. It’s about establishing a relationship with customers where you keep your promises so they know they can depend on you. If you can do this consistently you will gain their confidence and win their trust.

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