Despite optimistic predictions in 2016 that a few elite brands would break away from the pack in 2017, Forrester data, from this year’s Customer Experience Index,
showed that not only was this not the case, but the number of poor scores had increased and losses were deeper and broader than gains.
Forrester’s report, Predictions 2018: The Crisis Of Trust And How Smart Brands Will Shape CX
, looks at the reasons for this trend and predicts enlightened brands will use customer experience (CX) to turn the tide and win back customer trust.
A rising consumer confidence index, heralding increased spending and more consumer experiences, has given consumers more opportunities to engage with brands and form perceptions of them. However, the report points out that these engagements have been tainted by a concomitant drop in trust.
Forrester references the 28-country Edelman Trust Barometer
, which showed that 48% of respondents do not trust business to do what is right, and 63% find CEOs, not at all, or merely somewhat, credible. There was a 12 points increase in these grim findings from just a year earlier. Forrester said it agreed with the Edelman survey, which described the findings as evidence of 'an implosion of trust'.
“We believe four factors have led to this significant collapse in trust. Firstly, more frequent and extreme misleading or false statements from politicians and executives; secondly, stealth propagandists planting false claims that millions of credulous consumers propagate; thirdly, the power of platforms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter to speed and scale up the spread of falsehoods; and finally, the belated and (so far) weak response of these tech giants in acknowledging and remedying their role in this downward spiral,” says Ryan Hart, Forrester principal analyst serving CX professionals.
Four ways leading brands will address this crisis of trust in 2018
Forrester has put forward four ways they believe leading brands will tackle the issues of trust over the next year: 1. Brands will put an emphasis on authentic brand values
Forrester points out that brands which hold true to their core values and resist the short-term opportunities to capitalise on transient trends or events are more likely to build customer loyalty. Examples of how Apple put pledges to source renewable energy ahead of profits and attracted environmentally conscience customers, while PepsiCO weathered backlash after its Kendall Jenner protester ad, drive home the point. 2. Smart companies will make the effort to genuinely understand their customers
Around 88% of companies Forrester surveyed are using journey mapping and other methods to find and fix glaring problems. The company says that CX professionals at leading firms will now move beyond ad hoc initiatives, probing more deeply into the root causes of the problems, and design outcomes which will scale and last. 3. B2B companies will make the leap from selling to customer success management (CSM)
Forrester says it is seeing a shift in B2B CX with CSM practitioners looking to cultivate loyalty by delivering effective, reliable, and trustworthy experiences. According to Forrester, CSM practitioners earn trust by strengthening CX management maturity practices, ensuring that promises made to clients in the pre-sale period don’t fall by the wayside. B2B companies placing a strong focus on CSM will set themselves apart in the coming year. 4. Brands will better understand and serve distinct communities rather than the mass market
Segmenting and personalisation will allow customers to feel more known. Forrester warns that ‘jack-of-all-trades’ brands could miss the mark when it comes to delivering memorable experiences. Forrester points out that mass-market brands such as Walmart and Amazon have continued to drift down on the CX rankings. This trend is not unique to the retail sector. Banks that have cultivated niched markets continue to outshine their mass-market competitors.
Hart concludes noting that companies that try to be everything to everyone will continue their decline. However, those that deliver better experiences and value by specialising in the unique needs of specific customer segments will set themselves apart.
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