According to PwC, trust has declined in the past year with only 30 per cent of people saying they have trust in consumer markets compared to 32 per cent a year prior.

With Covid fresh in our minds and a cost-of-living crisis still unfolding, there are plenty of reasons for consumer trust to have eroded, from increased prices at the cash register to lingering supply chain issues and delivery snafus.

Consumers are already thinking twice about opening their wallets and as reporting season rolls on, the trust gap is widening with brands posting healthy profits while shoppers are being gouged at the checkout.

Off the back of the Coles earnings announcement, ACTU assistant secretary Joseph Mitchell told the New Daily, “The public has been told that supply chain issues and inflation are to blame for the cost-of-living crisis. But when you see the profits like those posted today, it is legitimate to ask whether Australia’s big supermarkets have used the cost-of-living crisis as a smokescreen to push up their profit margins, despite costs decreasing for themselves.”

It’s quite a quandary for brands. To make the most of the upcoming peak trading period, a customer service reboot program may be in order.

If that thought of that is daunting, you’re not alone. We can all be paralysed by big ideas. Even the process of getting to big ideas can be somewhat overwhelming.

Instead, think about harnessing the intent of big ideas into bitesize experiments that feel distinctive to our brand.

After all, with 74 per cent of consumers saying that consistent and reliable customer experience is one of their top trust measures, designing for trust creates a distinctive opportunity.

When we’re working through big change, we’re rightly questioning the status quo, rethinking the things we’ve always done and the way we’ve always done them.

Part of this process allows for the reimagining of products and services for customers so they’re memorable and different. To build and reinforce trust.

The next eight weeks are prime for thought experiments and test-and-learn initiatives that could deliver a blueprint for improved products or services.

It could be a set of key messages or prompts within your existing user experience that addresses a critical information gap between customers and your brand whether online or dealing with frontline staff.

While Amazon’s Jeff Bezos says: “You earn trust slowly, over time by doing hard things well – delivering on time; offering everyday low prices, making promises and keeping them,” there’s no reason why you can’t make incremental changes now that give you a small win and set your business up for even greater success in the future.

M&S in the UK is continually thinking about small changes that can be made to add value for customers and win their trust in relation to the brand’s impact on the environment. For example, simple initiatives to add a message to packaging that tells customers how best to dispose of it. The retailer is also replacing plastic tags with recycled paper alternatives. The latter example may take a longer timeframe to implement but the next eight weeks could be spent creating an execution plan, for example.

Or you could take a leaf out of online retailer Etsy’s book and explore easy-to-implement functionality such as an onboarding progress meter to win the trust of sellers on the platform by helping them to optimise their digital shop window. In eight weeks, you mightn’t be able to launch it, but you and your team could create a low-fi prototype for testing with users.

There’s something to be said for the power of momentum, keeping things moving, iterating, testing, and learning.

This is the quarter for a tiny transformation project that sustains momentum, and transforms customer satisfaction into trust, without creating a thing for the sake of a thing, because no customer or employee needs more “stuff”.

This article was first published in Inside Retail

Aimee Coleman is the Director of Principals AlphaLab

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