Consumer trust is a complex conversation as it works on many levels depending on where – and on how – a brand operates in the business spectrum. But there is no disguising the importance of organising your development or transformation around customers needs.

For three brands – Xinja, Lion and Sigma Healthcare – that development has been at the forefront of its current thinking and future planning.

They are companies at very different, yet in some ways very similar, places in the business spectrum.

As the world moves into the era of open banking, the online-only so-called neo-banks such as Xinja – banks with no shopfronts, and no branches – are potential beneficiaries of the failure by the big banks to meet trust responsibilities.

Xinja bank co-founder and chief marketing officer, Camilla Cooke, is well-versed in discussions around the foundational and experiential levels of trust. “We are entering a new era of trust, and we’re well-positioned for it. Somebody asked a few years ago, ‘Do you trust your bank?’ Some people took that to mean, is it safer to put the money in a bank than under my mattress? In other words, ‘Am I confident they won’t lose my money? Do I trust them not to lose my money?’

“Now, after a number of factors including the GFC, and the decision by the government to underwrite the banks, that’s no longer relevant because all deposits in Authorised Deposit taking Institutions [ADIs] are underwritten up to $250,000 by the government.

If the bank basically closes down, the government is obliged to repay you up to that amount. So we don’t think the new era of trust is about ‘Will you lose my money’, we think it is about two things, the first of which is data.

“The question ‘Do I trust you not to lose my money?’ is more ‘Do I trust you not to lose my data? Are you going to have a breach? Do I trust you not to lose my identity to somebody else?”

Cooke says another key question that consumers ask when it comes to their transaction with a bank is, ”Do I trust you to use my data in my interests, and not yours?” Previously banks ’just chucked up‘ vast amounts of data, and then worked out how best to harvest from the customer base. The question they were asking themselves was ‘What can I sell this person?’

“With the emergence of the open data movement, there has been a shift of control in data to the consumer. That movement is saying, ‘I will give my data to somebody who proves to me they will give me value for my data and it’s becoming more and more beholden of big corporates to do so.’

“Today, consumers don’t have to give their data to everybody. People can more and more select what permissions they give to whoever they are dealing with.”

Organisations need to look at what benefits through personalisation they are giving back to the customer by analysing their data?

Eventually, the financial institution will be judged that way, she says. ‘How can you actually help me make more out of my money?’ ‘How can data analysis help reduce my debt?’ ’Did you commensurably improve my financial situation?’

“We are entering a new era of trust. It’s not about you keeping my money safe, it’s about you keeping my data safe, and me being able to trust you to do the right thing with it?” Cooke says.

Lion customer experience initiative leader, Tim Gilberd says the food company is in the middle of a massive business transformation that, ultimately, is all about the customer.

“Today, all the talk is about data and customers, understanding and knowledge. We are experimenting with new products from a number of companies to better understand our consumers and customers,” he says.

“We currently record phone calls for quality purposes. We get 500,000 phone calls a year. Now we are digitising them, translating them into text, and using that data to understand the key themes our customers are saying at the customer service level, so that we don’t miss anything and we can continually make quick changes or innovate to meet their needs – needs they may not even know they have yet.”

Sigma Healthcare is a complex organisation in which trust is applicable on all three levels – foundational, experiential and reputational. It is a wholesaler and distributor to pharmacies but also has network of independent and franchised pharmacies and healthcare providers across Australia.

Recently it launched, in conjunction with Doctors on Demand, InClinic, which provides patients with access to professional online consultation and advice from an Australian registered doctor, inside a pharmacy. It is Australia’s first telehealth service in pharmacies.

Head of e-Commerce, Luke Shaw, says the company had a fundamental cultural change three years ago when it decided to go customer first and customer centric and this also led to a business transformation.

“We have three sets of customers,” Shaw says. “There are the franchise partners who are running the pharmacies, then we also have – in the digital space –the consumer directly, and finally our suppliers.

“But our technology, generally, was lacking and behind that in other businesses. Pharmacists are the second most trusted profession in the world in an industry is quite traditional. It has its foundations in that trust, that bricks and mortar presence, and that person in a white coat at the back of the shop, so technology was an area that had been a little neglected, but that is all changing by necessity.

“Two years ago, as part of the evolution, Sigma partnered with SAP to implement a new B2B wholesale ordering platform to better serve our franchise partners. That has evolved from a fairly basic offering 18 months ago, to a well-used and well-liked platform for ordering from us.

“We’re giving the franchise partners the transparency on what they need, particularly around pricing, automating where we can, and making their dealings with us a lot easier,” Shaw said.

“A year ago we also introduced Qualtrics, which is the mechanism we use to get direct feedback from all of our customers, both our consumers and franchise partners.

“We spent 12 months delivering a good platform and then turned it over to them and said, ’What do you want? What do you need? We’ve given you what we think you want. Tell us now exactly what’s missing or what’s going to make your businesses easier and better to run.’”

That feedback became the basis of Sigma’s releases over the next 12 months. It resulted in its biggest Net Promoter Score jump in February when it took not only the things that customers were asking it to do – which it was doing as normal – but also went back to them and said, ‘You asked for these four specific changes and guess what? Here they are, we delivered on what you asked for. We not only asked what you wanted, we acted – go and check it out, and see if you like it, and then tell us more so we can go and act again.’

It was trust well-earned.

Reputational trust

Reputational trust is, of course, everything in the modern world of retail and consumerism. Lion has been talking about trust for a long time and the values associated with having trusted people and trusted brands.

Gilberd says the company believes relationships are important both with its customers and end-consumers.

“Whilst we are not a direct-to-consumer business, we are a B-to-B-to-C business. The alcohol business, in particular, is built around sociability, and sociability is about relationships – and longstanding relationships are built around trust,” he says.

So how does Lion get the balance between keeping the trust of its older long-term customers who have been with the company and its brands a long time while also engaging younger generations who may not have heard of some of those brands.

Gilberd says the answer is the story of the food industry over the last 10 years. It is one of innovation and the creation of new brands that mean more for the next generation than the previous generation. For instance, two of the current top five brands have been around less than 10 years and have been innovated and created on the back of the desires of the new generation of consumers.

“Understanding and doing the research and keeping close to the mindset of the current and next generation is a core purpose of our marketing. The business transformation will also help us to get a lot more key data to analyse. That means we need different capabilities. We need, from a people perspective, to ask questions that we haven’t asked in the past. Ultimately though, the core of any customer experience, of building trust, and receiving insights from our customers, is the biggest single opportunity for innovation.”

Sigma Healthcare’s Shaw says the pharmacy company has a similar split when it comes to the consumer.

“There are people who prefer to go into a store. If they have a chronic condition, or are from an older generation, then they tend to like that face-to-face feedback and information that you can get from a trusted partner. However, the younger generation is more happy to use Doctors On Demand, or a video service, or social networks to get feedback from their peers.

“The introduction of the government’s My Health Record service has meant that stores need to embrace both groups of users. It’s not just going to be people coming in with a piece of paper the pharmacist can put in a drawer and keep on file,” he says.

This is because the flexibility of choosing which store a customer visits is becoming easier because, in many cases, their script will be on My Health Record or on their phone.

“We’ll see who people trust the most,” he says. “If they do trust a store because of their history with it, they will choose to go back there. It’s that repeat element, that life cycle of from the cradle to the grave that people have with a pharmacist.

“Being ready for all these changes by building technologies and capabilities into our stores is something of which we are very aware.

“Ultimately, it is about delivering a better health outcome for people whether they choose to use click and collect on their mobiles, deliver product to their homes, or physically go into a store.”

What Xinja, Lion and Sigma Healthcare, all demonstrate is an innate commitment to meeting their consumers needs as they strive to successfully develop a winning trust equation.

About the author

Mike Gee is a writer for the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit of which SAP CX is a corporate member. Members provide their insights and expertise for the benefit of the Which-50 community. Membership fees apply.


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