By Dr. Michael Barbera and Katana Lemelin
Trust is valuable, hard earned, and closely guarded. Trust can take a long time to achieve and moments to lose; however, this applies to the binary options: trust or don’t trust. There is a third option: perceived trust. Perceived trust is achieved when a customer is willing to purchase products or services from a brand for a first time. The consumer is unsure about the brand experience, yet curious enough to take a risk. A significant contributing factor to building perceived trustworthiness is the amount of effort required by a consumer or user to get their problem solved.
REDUCING CUSTOMER EFFORT
Imagine you’re visiting a website that your friend recommended. You scroll down to the description of an article and you want to read the remainder of that article. You click on the website where you believe you should click. Nothing happens. You click again. Nothing happens. You click again and again. Still, nothing happens. This stressful experience is known as rage clicking. Rage clicking occurs when a person continuously clicks on a portion of a website where the site should have a click through option or appears to have a click through option. After a short period of rage clicking, how likely are you to remain on the website? Multiple studies suggest that users are likely to exit the website immediately after a rage clicking experience. The user interface included a barrier between the customer and brand, which increased customer effort. The customer is not likely to return.
In a similar act of dedication, you want to order food from a nearby restaurant. After a quick internet search, you learn the restaurant does not have a website and you’re unable to view the menu before you call the restaurant. At this time, those who are dedicated to order from this restaurant are likely to search for customer generated images of the menu on Google, Yelp, or similar websites. After scrolling through 20 photos, how likely are you to order from this restaurant? Similar to the rage clicking experience, the customer’s willingness to purchase significantly decreases with each click or swipe.
How likely are you to reduce barriers between your brand and your customers?
When bundled with customer effort, message framing and likeability could influence a customer to have perceived trust with a brand. When choosing a family physician, the majority of people don’t ask the potential doctor about their experience, training, or approach to medicine. Most customers and patients seek a physician based on reputation (word-of-mouth) and availability. The reputation is often derived from bedside manor, which is the doctor’s likeability and their ability to communicate as a trusted advisor.
During the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Italian telecommunications company, Vodafone, crafted the ‘be human’ marketing campaign based on bedside manor and likeability, which comforted consumers by bundling the brand with other activities their customers enjoy, which includes chatting with friends, cooking, and exercising. Additionally, Vodafone encouraged their audience to contact their friends who may need help (encouraging conversation via telephone).
From bedside manner to bathroom comfort, Cottonelle’s ‘Share a Square’ Campaign attempted to ease consumer concerns and reduce hoarding behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic by encouraging their audience to “Stock up on generosity”. The campaign bundled their brand with altruistic behavior by suggesting that community could be a higher priority than ourselves.
CRAFT AN ALTERNATIVE EXPERIENCE
A community could easily transition to groups, social environments, and the most persuasive thing we can do…show that others are doing it, too. When Major League Baseball (MLB) launched without fans in the stadiums, those watching games at home would still have the ability to cheer, boo, or clap for their favorite teams, virtually. MLB launched a web-based user experience that permits fans to interact with their teams during games from their mobile device or desktop. The sounds of fans cheering, boo-ing and clapping on television are all derived from fan’s clicks, swipes, and taps via smartphones and computers.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) employed a similar experience with the addition of live fans via video. The NBA partnered with Microsoft Teams to launch “Together Mode”. From a smartphone or computer, the fans could register to have their live-face and motions displayed on a courtside screen. Thus, giving the fans and athletes an alternative experience…being together.
Walgreens attempted to bundle an alternative experience, bedside manner, and reducing customer effort, Walgreens’ Pharmacy Chat attempts to triple-down on perceived trust. One of the largest pharmacies in the United States, and a trusted leader in healthcare, Walgreens, adapted their ‘Ask a Pharmacist’ web series into short, informative videos that answer common questions related to COVID-19. Additionally, the brand quickly transitioned an existing email campaign into a video ad to explain how people can safely use online healthcare services. Walgreens brought the physician to our fingertips.
Small changes could equate to positive brand experiences. The bundling of alternative experiences, bedside manner message framing, and reducing customer effort are likely to increase perceived trustworthiness between the customer and the brand.