October 20, 2015

Consumers’ Trust: Looking at healthcare and politicians

SUMMARY: In social interactions, people evaluate each other instantly on trustworthiness. In the digital realm, brands face the challenge of developing trusted relationships with customers without having a direct face-to-face interaction.

Read on to discover how much U.S. consumers trust Congress, political candidates, healthcare plans and physicians, and how marketers can use these insights to build customer trust in their brands.

by Dr. Liva LaMontagne , Editorial Research Manager

From August 11-19, 2015, PARTNERS+simons conducted a survey with MassINC Polling Group of 1,200 consumers across the U.S. It found that physicians had the highest trust levels among consumers (87%), followed by health insurance plans (82%). Congress had the lowest percentage of consumers who trust them (33%). Large banks were in the middle of the pack with 48% of consumers reporting that they trust banks.

Brand trust is important for all companies and marketers. As Josh McQueen, long-time Leo Burnett Agency EVP, wrote in his book Building Brand Trust: Discovering the Advertising Insights Behind Great Brands, "Brands that build trust build resilience and can, like Tylenol, and Coca-Cola, recover from mistakes. Trusted brands build loyalty, and it is those loyal buyers who provide over 80% of a company's profitable sales."

The current study reaffirmed the importance of trust in healthcare settings — nearly nine in 10 consumers who trusted a healthcare brand would also recommend it to their friends, compared to just six percent of those who did not trust the brand.

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How can marketers build customer trust in their brands? Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa, and Rich Levy, President, PARTNERS+simons, shared the following insights.

Trust is personal

"It makes sense that 'I trust my physician' was the statement customers most agree with," Burstein said, explaining that customers have a one-to-one, human relationship with their physician. He added that large brands are trying to emulate this kind of relationship through personalization, segmentation, technology, data and content with real people representing brands, and marketing campaigns assigning positive human elements to a brand.

He added that to build trust, brands should do everything they can to tear down the corporate wall. To do this, they should connect humans who are empowered to help customers with those customers through content and customer service representatives.

"It's much easier to distrust or rail against a faceless corporation than it is Molly, whose blog posts you've read, or Fred, the customer service rep who is not reading you an 'I understand your concern' corporate script, but truly has a conversation with you to help solve your problem," Burstein said.

Advice for marketers

Tip #1. Provide excellent customer service

"The number one thing brands and marketers can do to build trust with customers is to make an honest proposition before the sale, and then relentlessly (over)deliver on that promise after the sale," Burstein said. He added that every company and person stumbles from time to time.

In these cases, transparency helps keep that trust — through the marketing before the sale, showing the people and processes involved in creating the product or service through content and marketing campaigns, in dealing directly with customers and in larger communications as well when things go wrong, he added.

Tip #2. Be transparent about your policies

Trust can not only be lost through a weak delivery of value through the product or service itself, Burstein added, but also in the way companies handle (and mishandle) customer data and communicate their data policies, as we have discussed previously.

Tip #3. Measure your state of consumer trust

"There is no one size fits all solution for communicating trust," Levy said, adding that, "understanding where a specific healthcare organization ranks on the components of trust — ability, integrity and benevolence — and then crafting positioning and selling strategies that are responsive to any surplus or deficit is the only prescription."

To sum up, people trust people more than they trust organizations. However, marketers can increase brand trust by consistently serving their customers well, handling customers' personal information responsibly and tracking their brands' levels of customer trust.

Related Resources

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Lead Nurturing: You can't automate trust (from the B2B Lead Roundtable Blog)

Customer-centric Marketing: How transparency translates into trust (from the MarketingSherpa Blog)

Ecommerce: Building online trust before customers click over to your competitors' sites (from the MarketingSherpa Blog)

4 Ways To Improve Company-Customer Trust (by Blake Morgan, Forbes)

Josh McQueen's Building Brand Trust: Discovering the Advertising Insights Behind Great Brands

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