CrowdTwist is no stranger to customer data management, nor to customer centricity efforts. With an impressive and ever-growing list of enterprise clients, it spends a substantial amount of time on data integrity and security, as well as customer engagment. Recently, Loyalty360 spoke with CrowdTwist CCO Emily Rudin to discuss the effects of data breaches on consumers, what can be done to rebuild trust, and how brands can keep their customers at the center focus in 2019.
In response to the challenges of 2018—data mismanagement, proliferation of “fake news,” and high-profile data bases, just to name a few—there is an opportunity for brands to support their customers and suppliers their clients as we move into 2019. Many brands are stepping up their game to win back consumer affection, or “brand love,” but others still need to figure out how to build or rebuild trust.
Rudin says of this topic, “Our research suggests that there’s growing distrust amongst customers.  Almost 50 percent of the consumers we surveyed in 2018 said they were willing to share their data with a brand in exchange for a personalized experienced. In 2017, this percentage was much much higher.”
Rudin recommends that brands focus on rebuilding that trust this year. One such method is to find ways to connect with customers in meaningful ways. This can be done by establishing brand purpose. According to research conducted in 2018, 79 percent of consumers are more loyal to purpose-driven brands than traditional brands. While some brands have not come to realize the importance of “giving back,” Rudin believes that consumers have come to expect brands to be purposeful.
In addition, while it may be easier for newer brands to establish brand purpose, legacy brands may find it challenging. Rudin advises that these brands learn about what causes their customers care about and align themselves to these causes in authentic ways. Giving back to the community helps improve brand perception and awareness, and it also demonstrates to customers that the brand has a social conscience. Rudin recommends that brands keep their causes at the forefront of their loyalty programs by allowing members to be rewarded for volunteering or enabling them to redeem their points for charitable donations. This makes it easier for consumers to give back and help builds trust and an authentic emotional brand connection.  
Emotional loyalty and trust can also be built by leveraging the data customers have shared to create meaningful and memorable experiences. Brands that adopt loyalty programs are able to use rich opt-in data to build customer profiles and personalize engagement.  Rudin says, “If you look at what customers are looking for from their favorite brands, it’s a relationship. It’s being able to contribute, be heard, and have a relationship with the brand that represents a two-way dialogue.”
Rudin added an important caveat. “When a customer willingly shares their information, and brands fail to use it—for instance, by sending an email promotion that demonstrates a lack of knowledge of the customer—it does real damage to the relationship with the customer.”
She continues, “If this were to persist, customers will likely withhold on sharing their thoughts, feelings, likes, and opinions with brands. This disadvantages brands immensely. They will find it extremely challenging to build emotional relationships and deep connections with customers without getting that valuable feedback.”
On the topic of social media strategies, Rudin says that she believes that social media “stands as a place to amplify the brand values and drive deeper connections and connect with customers in more meaningful ways.” She continues, “It’s really important for brands to be omnipresent with their customers across all the channels they engage with.”
One major trend in social media right now is the need for brands to respond immediately to customer queries. Brands are using chatbots for instant messaging. Rudin advises that while chatbots are an excellent way for customers to get immediate answers to simple questions and requests, the need for customers to connect with a live person still exists. The preliminary chatbot conversation should inform and ensure that the dialogue is solution-based and tailored to the customer’s query.
In addition, Rudin insists that customer journey mapping “is an undertaking that is extremely valuable for all brands.” She says, “Customer journey mapping allows for brands to identify the ways customers currently engage with their brand, identify pain points, and provide solutions to optimize the journey. Brands that adopt a multichannel loyalty program are able to reward customers for taking action with the brand at every stage of that journey.”
Rudin also says that “a stale program in market is worse than no program in market. Loyalty programs are designed to not only attract new members but also retain, recognize, and reward your best customers. And if your best customers do not feel recognized and rewarded in programs, your program is failing.” She notes that key ways to identify that a loyalty program isn’t at optimal performance is low engagement and low redemption. This indicates that members aren’t seeing value in the program.
These trends offer challenges and opportunities for brands in 2019. In order to be successful, B2C firms need to keep customers at the core of everything they do. Brands need to find new and relevant ways to connect with customers. Brands are leveraging cause marketing, thoughtful personalization, customer journey mapping, and loyalty programs that add value to the customer relationship.
Brands can find out how to implement some of these strategies in CrowdTwist’s whitepaper “How to Win Brand Love in 2019.”

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