A Virtuous CycleLast week, after a very tasty bacon butty, I was sharing on the topics of Trust, Data Sharing & Identity Management, working towards recommending a Virtuous Cycle of improvement. All in the fine surroundings of the Royal Institute.

It’s been a pleasure this year to partner with MyCustomer.com, to deliver a number of breakfast briefings. This one was more substantive, as it was also to reveal the findings of my latest UK consumer research, sponsored by ForgeRock.

I revealed the findings of our new research into digital identities, consumer trust and the virtuous cycle of improvement (more on this later).

That research, detailed in a white-paper published here, explores the pain points consumers experience with brands online, and how these experiences affect the trust they have with these brands.

The problems with today’s digital CX

Our quantitative research surveyed over 1,000 UK consumers about their use of digital services and experiences online.

When asked about their digital experience when using devices, most (54%) reported them as only “satisfactory“. Only 33% considered their experience to be “easy” when using digital services.

Identity Management graph 1

Exploring this further, we asked explicitly about experiences when switching digital devices.

Our respondents’ answers were a stark reminder that irritations during digital experiences really do matter: despite classic British reserve causing over 40% of UK consumers to take no action, over 33% gave up on using that digital service, 24% switched to another provider to get the job done, and worse still, 17% never came back to the brand that delivered a bad experience.

So, digital service providers should not just be concerned about the 15% who might bad-mouth them on Facebook or Twitter. Costly customer attrition can be driven by difficulty in switching devices when using digital services.

The erosion of trust

In recent years, we have all become used to stories about the erosion of trust. Whether it is bankers, journalists, policemen, celebrities or politicians – we are deluged with surveys showing us that public confidence has been eroded and even familiar brands will have to work hard to regain trust in these more cynical times.

Given that context, any evidence of actions that damage trust should be taken seriously by leaders and marketers. In our survey we found a direct correlation between consumers ‘ease score’ and the trust they had in digital service providers.

Specifically we asked about peoples’ trust in digital service providers to ‘use their personal data appropriately’. With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) looming, this should be a vital concern.

Consumers who found their digital experience (including switching devices) to be difficult or even gave up, were much more likely to answer that they had ‘little trust’ in the provider to use this data appropriately. Even those with a satisfactory experience only had ‘some trust’. To find UK consumers with better trust ratings (from ‘mainly trust’ to ‘fully trust’), required a digital customer experience which was ‘easy’.

Obviously there is a potential Catch 22 here: how much is it worth investing in making your digital switching experience ‘easy’, even whilst customers may not be sharing all the data you want? What would it take to induce your customers into sharing the data you need to improve/simplify/personalise their experience?

We asked the same 1,000 UK consumers what they would want in return for sharing their personal data with digital service providers. On average, most voted for both an easier experience (46%) and exclusive discounts/deals (44%).

Virtuous cycle

So, which technology building blocks do businesses need to address this challenge of making experiences easier? Unsurprisingly, it starts with data control and permissions:

GDPR-compliant data capture (with data models to maintain audit trail of permissions, etc).
• Access for customers to continue to see and be able to correct/update data they have shared with you.
• Access for customers to update all their permissions (not just when you contact them).
A single customer view (even if virtual, rather than a data warehouse solution).
Personalisation capability (to demonstrate tangible benefit of data sharing to customers).
• Ability to manage identities.

This last point is worth stressing as it is often missed in discussions about digital customer experience or CRM. To address the irritations discussed at the start of this post requires identifying customers accurately and quickly across devices, as well as enabling them to control their data and permissions from any such device.

It’s something that the BBC has made tangible with its recent move to the MyBBC ID:

 

As made clear by this example, conforming to the User Managed Access (UMA) open standard set by the OAuth community is a must. But, beyond the technology required, the bigger challenge is business strategy and mindset.

It’s fundamental to the BBC’s approach, and is what has led to us recommending a new model for improving customer experience to increase trust and data sharing, so that experience can then be improved further, in a cycle of continuous improvement.

The Virtuous Cycle

To explain this virtuous cycle in a little more detail, what this means is:

  1. Starting with a focus on understanding the jobs your customers are trying to get done and making those as easy as possible (including when switching devices);
  2. As customers find that experience easier, our research suggests their trust in your service will increase;
  3. Improved trust should also lead to greater willingness to share their personal data with you (so have a clear proposition ready, making clear how they will benefit);
  4. As your customers share more data, above all, use this to make their experience easier (through personalisation, less data capture);
  5. Repeat – continue to track how easy your digital services are to use and what you can do to make those better – and round you go again.

Customers are increasingly using multiple devices and channels with brands and the advent of the Internet of Things and connected devices will only propagate this further.

What are the implications for your business?

Our research has highlighted, how easy you make a customer’s experience (across all of these channels and devices) is becoming more and more vital to the trust and faith they have in your brand. A trust you will need in order to retain data sharing in post-GDPR world.

To maintain this trust, it is vital you tackle your data value exchange and put processes in place to ensure you continue to do so. It’s for that reason that I advocate the virtuous cycle.

Have any of you already got this working positively in your business? Do let us know in Comments section below.

Once again, here is site where you can download a full version of this white-paper, for all the detail of our survey findings:

Winning customer trust: The opportunities presented by GDPR, omnichannel and digital disruption

In collaboration with Survey Sampling UK, we polled 1,000 UK consumers who have at least one online account with a retailer, financial service provider or similar, in a bid to examine their digital experiences, where the disconnections arise, and the impact this has on customer relationships.