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How can brands win trust in an experience economy?

20th Aug 2020
SAS UK LTD
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Emerging technologies will change the way we work in every industry, bringing quality of life changes and transformative process improvements. Among those areas set to be disrupted the most is customer experience – here, data-driven insights will enable businesses to tap into the minds of their customers ‘in the moment’ and make faster, more informed decisions.  

Our Experience 2030 research, which explores how the CX space will evolve over the next 10 years, underlines the importance of experience in the buyer journey. Consumers in the digital era expect convenience and flexibility above all else, and will have no problem looking elsewhere if this cannot be provided. The report identifies trust as a key factor in the way people engage with brands and it’s easy to see why, with last year recorded as the worst year on record for breaches leading to exposed records.

With the use of consumer data set to increase rapidly, how can brands win their trust?

The tech-enabled customer 

Today’s consumers are living in a world where the physical and digital worlds are connected by emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and mixed reality. This empowered ‘new consumer’ is capitalising on these new technologies, constantly seeking new ways to enhance their experience through faster, more convenient and personalised services.

This means many technologies considered fringe now will be mainstream by the close of the decade. Our research found that, by 2030, 81% of customers expect to engage with chatbots, 80% to use virtual assistants and receive deliveries by drone or autonomous vehicles, and 78% predict they will control other devices with their wearables. 

The rise in new channels will give companies more opportunities to engage and convert. However, to be in the running, organisations need to be able to keep up. If customers are hopping across a myriad of different channels and devices, brands need the capabilities to follow and track them across the entire customer journey. It’s the only way to deliver a joined-up, seamless experience.  

The digital natives of today are going to be tomorrow’s customers. They won’t shrink away from new technologies, instead they’ll embrace them and carry competitive, tech-enabled organisations with them. 

The value of data

Leveraging these new technologies will require taking advantage of the mountains of customer data that organisations have collated over the years – but are consumers ready for this? 

Consumers are willing to share personal data in exchange for value. For example, 49% of consumers are willing to trade their private and personal information for free products or services, while half would trade it for improved or paid products and services. However, they’re also savvy about their data and are concerned about a loss of privacy and control over the data that brands have acquired. 

This doesn’t just cover online data, but the physical world as well. Trust is therefore a key element in the overall customer experience, and it follows that brands which cannot provide a high level of trust cannot provide a high level of customer experience. 

Employing an ethical approach

Succeeding in the digital era requires organisations gaining consumer trust. To connect with consumers, organisations will need to take new steps and, given the prevalence of new technologies in the future CX landscape, this will inevitably centre around implementation.

Here, organisations would do well to employ ethical frameworks to ensure AI is governed appropriately. The FATE approach is a good example of this. This means having fairness in the way AI is implemented, ensuring it is devoid of bias and corporate discrimination. It’s essential to question who decides that AI outcomes are ‘right’ and ensure a diverse range of inputs at the design stage to avoid inbuilt discrimination. 

Secondly, the ownership of AI-powered decision-making should be clear and accountable. AI should not simply be left on its own to make decisions on behalf of the organisations – rather, project owners must be assigned to ensure fair and ethical decision-making. 

Thirdly, the method by which insights and decisions are reached must be laid out from start to finish to avoid ‘black box’ scenarios.’ Under GDPR, consumers have the right not to be subjected to decisions made by ‘unseen’ analytical processes – greater transparency allows for greater trust in decisions made by the system.

Lastly, AI-generated decisions must be explainable in that they must make clear sense. Businesses must strike a balance between accuracy and interpretability – the more complex the output, the less explainable it will be. A transparent AI process is more likely to produce models that can be explained.

Have you future-proofed your business?

The next decade may seem like a long way off, but those brands which embrace new technologies will future-proof themselves for years to come. The customer experience is emerging as a key driver of competitive advantage, meaning businesses must assess the capabilities of their marketing technologies to fine-tune the customer journey. 

Clearly, the extent to which brands can leverage data will impact the decisions they make. It follows that gaining consumer trust is key to providing these seamless experiences – brands must therefore be clear and transparent in the way their data is put to use. Ultimately, the future CX leaders will be those businesses which surprise and delight their customers, while those which fail to do so will fade into the background.

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