The trust economy & Blockchain

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Building trust through technology in the age of the Trust Economy

Forrester coined the term Customer Obsession with their research looking at the many aspects involved in being obsessed with consumers for the maximum business and user benefit. It’s a cultural paradigm shift, that completely changes the focus of customer experience. It uses actionable insights from customer data, driving forward intelligent personalisation and a digital capability embedded throughout the organisation involved to ensure the focus is always on servicing and improving the user journey throughout a consumer’s lifecycle.

When you approach marketing from a Customer Obsession point of view, you start listening to what your customer wants, whilst aspects such as data security, access to information about themselves and information about the products they’re buying starts to come to the forefront of their priorities. This is where a tool like blockchain  becomes crucial.

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Blockchain affects marketing in three key areas - Identity, Personalisation and Control. Through these three key areas interacting with each other meaningful trust is built between consumer and brand, service or product.

How will marketing be affected by Blockchain?

Blockchain affects marketing in three key areas – Identity, Personalisation and Control. Through these three key areas interacting with each other meaningful trust is built between consumer and brand, service or product. This trust is worth significant consideration as reputation continues to be more and more valuable in a competitive business marketplace. It is here where we see the trust economy becoming a concrete advantage to any business that is serious about engaging its consumers in meaningful ways.

Blockchain’s effect on online identity

In the world we live in today, data and privacy concerns are at an all-time high with people becoming more guarded about the information they share online and companies viewing   brand-safety and their reputation as top priorities.

Individuals and Governments are now asking searching questions about data privacy and yet many people don’t necessarily understand what that means. Instead of digital privacy, the real concern should be digital identity. The danger and the opportunity lie in this digital identity space for both individuals and businesses alike.

We only have to look at past data breaches and hacking scandals with the likes of Uber, Sony and now with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica to see that when we are online what we share with companies is not necessarily safe and that centralised data silos will always have singular points of failure.

Once the damage is done, a brand will always struggle to regain the good faith of its customers regardless of the budget.

Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s share price is still feeling the effects of what a decline in brand trust has done to their business. If you think these types of scandals quickly blow away with some fancy PR and Online Reputation Management footwork, think again… Think also about how much this remedial brand reconstruction actually costs, and whether it will actually work. Once the damage is done, a brand will always struggle to regain the good faith of its customers regardless of the budget.

Are consumers ultimately to blame? As they progressively hand control of their online lives to Facebook and Google and umpteen other shiny apps out there in the marketplace. Their appetite for easy information and instant access is insatiable. Let’s face it, we are all someone’s consumer, Google and Facebook probably know more about us than our spouses, children, and psychologists put together. And all of that information is stored within centralised data banks.

Cracked glass

It’s crazy to think that some businesses’ relationships with their customers can be broken permanently by a forgotten password or username.

Decentralisation and data personalisation

These centralised databases are siloed, expensive to maintain, keep secure and are open to fraud. They also preclude users from accessing and controlling their own data whilst forcing them to keep separate usernames and passwords – the bane of everyone’s life. It’s crazy to think that some businesses relationships with their customers can be broken pemanently by a forgotten password or username.

When businesses have all of this customer data, what do they actually do with it? Most firms are drowning in data but only use about a third of it. [1] Yet if your goal is to become Customer Obsessed, you need to invest in processes and systems to make data available, clear, and secure when it’s needed most.

Imagine a world where customers create an online identity, fill it with location data, passport information, clothing preferences – from shoe size to hip measurements – and only need to do it once. After that, they decide who gets access to what pieces of this information on a trust basis, business by business, that’s a pretty powerful shift in relationship… Well it’s coming and it’s called blockchain.

Through the blockchain, we see increased individual targeting and personalisation because companies will compete for the “attention” of consumers. Marketing and advertising startups in the blockchain space (i.e. WISEkey, Basic Attention Token, Vyral and Adbank) are already popping up aiming to offer a sort of credit system (tokenising behaviour)  between advertisers and the customer for “trusted eyeballs”.

Decentralisation is the cornerstone of the blockchain philosophy. It means that a secure copy of customer information is distributed across a network and once written to the blockchain through a series of algorithmic processes, it cannot be altered. This data is only accessible by them or a permissioned business. Because of this, identity theft will be a thing of the past. Identity can then be controlled through a unique user ID that is used across any online store connected into the blockchain. This is the elusive single sign-on that businesses have been trying to build for ages. Users will finally have a consolidated digital identity on the blockchain.

Users will finally have a consolidated digital identity on the blockchain.

With the advent of blockchain we see an opportunity for both businesses and customers to thrive from this new relationship. Customers still have ease of use but maintain control of their data… Businesses can ultilise blockchain to free up the data they hold securely without having to centralise it all and both can benefit from a deeper relationship and understanding of each other, built on trust over time.

Businesses will also benefit through blockchain by having supply chains that are transparent and secure ensuring both business and consumer safety. In South Africa in 2018, 193 people have died so far from a Listeriosis outbreak and more than 1,000 confirmed cases have been reported since January 2017. The WHO says South Africa’s listeriosis outbreak is the ‘largest ever’ on record (recently, the UK has had its own Listeriosis scare). Yet it took 16 months to trace the outbreak of the bacteria to a factory that produced cold, processed meat. Yet if the products could be traced more reliably and transparently through the supply chain using blockchain technology, imagine how these companies would have saved lives as well as their reputations!

Transparency builds the Trust Economy

As information on the blockchain can’t be tampered with, this technology promises to deliver transparency and provide an unprecedented level of security to all data transactions opening up industries like never before.

Businesses no longer have the luxury of whether they’re considering it – customers are demanding it. The world is changing, and customers will give brands attention if stories about brands are interesting enough, if brands show dedication to the truth about their products as well as if they go to lengths to use information to protect their customers (their data as well as their health).

This authenticity is what will build brand advantage. Trust and transparency will become a marketable asset.

Welcome to the trust economy.

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