Successful brands of the future will require customers' trust, but while technology is a factor in the current breakdown of trust it can also help build it, according to the CMO of Salesforce.

Technology is “the tip of the spear that is changing the way we interact”, Stephanie Buscemi told the recent DMEXCO audience – and the fact that everything is now connected gives marketers an extraordinary opportunity to create powerful customer experiences.

But doing that successfully will entail striking the correct balance between personalisation and privacy, she said. “Mark my words. This is the new battleground.”

Product and service alone will not be enough in the years ahead, she declared, as consumers will choose to spend their money with brands they trust.

But how can brands build that trust? As a pioneer in cloud computing, Salesforce had that notion embedded from the start, but Buscemi identified the factors that have helped it achieve and maintain trust with its customers.

It all starts with values, she said. (For more details, read WARC’s report: How Salesforce negotiates the new battleground of trust.)

“The values are the bedrock, are the foundation of our decision making. And those are the opportunities to build trust – [from] the smallest decisions to the biggest decisions, every interaction with your customer across every customer touchpoint: is it an opportunity to build trust or break trust?”

One particular practice that has proved effective, she added, is co-creation. Salesforce operates an ideas exchange, where customers can not only offer suggestions for what they’d like to see in upcoming product releases, they can also vote on those suggestions and prioritise developments.

This sort of transparency, with decisions made by the customer community – “that is a trust-building moment”.

Brands also need to look at their internal make up, Buscemi suggested. It’s not enough to say they believe in equality, they have to demonstrate that, with employees reflecting the diversity of their customer base.

Salesforce’s own marketing, for example, eschews stock photography in favour of actual images of staff and customers – and a recent video makes the point emphatically.

“Those are our employees, those are our customers, those are their voices,” said Buscemi. “And it is our job to reflect that in our brand. They are an extension of us and our brand.” 

Sourced from WARC