How SMEs can build customer trust in a data-driven world

Today’s customers are switched on, happy to shop around and acutely tuned in to when their personal data is being used. They’re becoming increasingly suspicious of the methods businesses use to collect their data, where this data is going, and what it’s being used for.

Small and medium businesses need to take note of this growing sentiment. Knowing more about your customer can help you achieve your own business objectives, but it can also help you design a better shopping experience for them. In fact, according to Segment’s 2017 State of Personalisation Report, 44 per cent of shoppers will likely become a repeat buyer after having a personalised shopping experience. But if customers don’t know exactly why you’re asking them to hand over their personal information, they’re likely to be wary.

So, how do you build trust between you and your customer when it comes to their data? A good place to start is by being genuine about getting to know your customer as an individual and being willing to share the reasons why their information can help you, and them, to have an optimal shopping experience.

Customer data is a valuable tool for a business, big or small. It gives you the power to personalise the shopping experience, gain insights into customer buying behaviour, and to manage stock, services and staffing levels. Businesses that give their customers fair control over how their data is used, and offer value in return for this exchange, are on the forefront when it comes to building a trusting relationship with their customers.

Transparency is the key to customers trusting and being loyal to your business – a 2018 Sprout Social study found that 89 per cent of consumers would give a brand a second chance after a bad experience if they believed them to be transparent and 85 per cent would stick with a brand through a crisis. This highlights the power of transparency over a customer’s buying decisions and the need for making the exchange of data as clear as possible.

Be upfront when asking customers to give over their details. If you’re asking for a customer’s email so that you can send them their receipt and to also (unknowingly) sign them up to your newsletter, you risk losing a potential returning customer. However, if you make this known beforehand, you’re more likely to receive a positive response and gain a reader of your emails.

Many businesses make the mistake of asking for forgiveness rather than permission and in such a competitive landscape, small businesses don’t have the luxury of losing out on returning customers, so always ask first and give reasons for why you want it. Convert customers by telling them exactly how it will enhance their experience. For example, if you’re asking for their birth date, explain that it’s so that you can send them a voucher on the day.

Data is a powerful tool in driving purchases, but also building a valuable shopping experience for customers. For instance, Segment’s 2017 Report found that nearly half of shoppers (49 per cent) purchased a product that they did not initially intend to buy after receiving a personalised recommendation from a brand. What’s more, 85 per cent of these impulse buyers were happy with their purchase, and only 5 per cent of impulse purchasers ended up returning the items.

In today’s ultra-competitive shopping environment, the businesses that are most likely to succeed will be those that are prepared to invest in building enduring relationships with customers, through transparency and trust – the key pillars of a data-driven world.

Vanessa Ferrao, Head of E-Commerce, Cashback World

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