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Why Gaining Customer Trust is so Challenging Nowadays – and What to Do about It – ReadWrite



Reuben Jackson

Customer trust is crucial for driving sales and revenue, but it’s also near an all-time low. Look no further than the approximately 40% of Americans who don’t trust the last presidential election results. COVID-19 vaccine skeptics are choosing to ignore healthcare advice because they don’t trust public health bodies, elected leaders, or scientists, in another prime example of today’s trust crisis.

The Edelman Group has been publishing a Trust Barometer study for 20 years now. This year, they report that trust scores dropped for every societal leader – including religious, political, media, and business leaders.

The general breakdown in trust didn’t come out of nowhere. It’s a storm that’s been brewing for years, fueled by political scandal, “golden handshake” payments to businessmen walking away from companies that lost shareholder money and fired hundreds of employees, and data breaches and fraud cases that drove suspicion about who you can trust with your personal details.

COVID-19 was the nail in the trust coffin. It was a chance for leaders to regain public faith, but most of them muffed the opportunity, perceived as locking down too late, too hard, and/or flip-flopping over regulations and restrictions.

And yet, brands have to find a way to build and strengthen consumer trust if they want to turn a profit. When asked how they make purchase decisions, 38% of consumers said that trust in the brand is the leading factor.

Fortunately, there are still some things your brand can do to help lift consumer trust.

Speak out about brand values

Executives can be nervous about expressing their brand values, fearing that they might alienate somebody with a differing perspective. But articulating your values expresses your authenticity, which drives trust both online and offline. Like with everything in life, if you try to please everyone by remaining on the fence, you’ll end up pleasing no one.

“Showing your customers that your brand values align with theirs is possibly the most important step for businesses to build trust,” says Cori Widen, a product marketing manager at Boosted by Lightricks. “Brand values are more than just a mission statement – your brand values help define your business’ personality and let your customers know more about your purpose, besides just making sales.”

The aforementioned Edelman study found that 86% of consumers believe that CEOs should speak up publicly about key issues of the day, even though it can be risky. We all feel more trust towards people — and brands — that share our views, so staying silent can make it hard for consumers to identify with your brand.

Care for your employees

Customers pay attention to your employee-employer relationship. If you’re seen to treat your employees with care and respect, and employees express positivity about their workplace, it encourages consumers to trust you, too.

COVID-19 saw consumers publicly warning each other away from companies that mistreated employees, while warmly recommending those that went beyond the call of duty to care for workers’ financial, physical, and mental health.

This is particularly important for companies that rely heavily on in-person interactions, like brick and mortar retail, hospitality brands, or leisure centers that need to encourage customers back through their doors.

People are still nervous about health and hygiene, and they’ll take their cues from your employees. Jodi Watson, former CMO at Petco and Wolverine Worldwide, notes that “If your employees feel safe and confident, that’s going to translate to consumer confidence.”

Place consumers’ best interests center stage

While trust crumbled right and left, faith in financial institutions has flourished. Globally, 82% of consumers say they are happy with their bank, the highest number for a long time.

It’s possible that this figure can be attributed to the speed with which banks and other financial institutions responded to COVID-19, rapidly rolling out digital services, loan relief, and mortgage vacations.

“Consumers expect companies to respond to crises and help solve problems — and in this case, financial services organizations mobilized quickly and stepped up to the plate,” explains Philip Guiliano, partner at BrandActive. “By offering relief-oriented solutions (such as mortgage deferral programs for those negatively impacted by the pandemic), they proved to their customers that they had their backs.”

Regardless of the industry you’re in, you can learn from banks by replying extra quickly to consumer questions, developing features that make life easier for consumers, sharing trustworthy and useful content, and generally delivering an excellent customer experience.

Listen to your customers

Trust is a feature of a relationship, and a real relationship has to work both ways. Simply broadcasting your values or beliefs isn’t enough to build a trust-based relationship.

You need to ask for feedback too, and most of all, to listen to and act upon it.

Mackenzie Caudill, editor of What’s Next Labs, is a big proponent of listening to customers, asserting that “Trust is built when a company listens to its customers, takes action accordingly, and keeps its promises.

If organizations invite feedback but take no action, customers feel that their trust has been betrayed for lip service. They see the company as being dishonest and disingenuous, which diminishes the hope for a lasting relationship.”

Show your humanity

In times of crisis, people seek empathy and support. Your brand needs to find its human face so you can connect with consumers on an equal level. It’s a good time to share your own challenges while expressing genuine empathy towards partners, consumers, and employees alike.

In April 2020, Rachel Diebner, consultant at McKinsey, advises that “Particularly in times of crisis, a customer’s interaction with a company can trigger an immediate and lingering effect on his or her sense of trust and loyalty.” When emotional stakes are high, the potential to win a customer for life is greater, but it isn’t going to work if you project faceless infallibility.

Make sure to share real behind-the-scenes images of your struggles on social media, being honest about unexpected delays or changes to your products or services, and amplifying the voices of actual employees.

All is not lost for consumer trust

Even when consumer trust is crashing, there are still ways for brands to increase their trustworthiness and improve their relationship with consumers. By listening to customers, expressing empathy, caring for employees, articulating brand values, and focusing on customer needs, brands can raise their trust profile even when everyone else’s is low.

Image Credit: provided by the author; depositphotos; thank you!

Reuben Jackson

Ruben is a blockchain security consultant currently living in New York City. He helps organizations fundamentally redesign experiences to create new sources of value also digitally reinventing company’s operations for greater efficiency.


Fintech Kennek raises $12.5M seed round to digitize lending



Google eyed for $2 billion Anthropic deal after major Amazon play

London-based fintech startup Kennek has raised $12.5 million in seed funding to expand its lending operating system.

According to an Oct. 10 report, the round was led by HV Capital and included participation from Dutch Founders Fund, AlbionVC, FFVC, Plug & Play Ventures, and Syndicate One. Kennek offers software-as-a-service tools to help non-bank lenders streamline their operations using open banking, open finance, and payments.

The platform aims to automate time-consuming manual tasks and consolidate fragmented data to simplify lending. Xavier De Pauw, founder of Kennek said:

“Until kennek, lenders had to devote countless hours to menial operational tasks and deal with jumbled and hard-coded data – which makes every other part of lending a headache. As former lenders ourselves, we lived and breathed these frustrations, and built kennek to make them a thing of the past.”

The company said the latest funding round was oversubscribed and closed quickly despite the challenging fundraising environment. The new capital will be used to expand Kennek’s engineering team and strengthen its market position in the UK while exploring expansion into other European markets. Barbod Namini, Partner at lead investor HV Capital, commented on the investment:

“Kennek has developed an ambitious and genuinely unique proposition which we think can be the foundation of the entire alternative lending space. […] It is a complicated market and a solution that brings together all information and stakeholders onto a single platform is highly compelling for both lenders & the ecosystem as a whole.”

The fintech lending space has grown rapidly in recent years, but many lenders still rely on legacy systems and manual processes that limit efficiency and scalability. Kennek aims to leverage open banking and data integration to provide lenders with a more streamlined, automated lending experience.

The seed funding will allow the London-based startup to continue developing its platform and expanding its team to meet demand from non-bank lenders looking to digitize operations. Kennek’s focus on the UK and Europe also comes amid rising adoption of open banking and open finance in the regions.

Featured Image Credit: Photo from; Thank you!

Radek Zielinski

Radek Zielinski is an experienced technology and financial journalist with a passion for cybersecurity and futurology.

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Fortune 500’s race for generative AI breakthroughs



Deanna Ritchie

As excitement around generative AI grows, Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs, are carefully examining the possible applications of this technology. A recent survey of U.S. executives indicated that 60% believe generative AI will substantially impact their businesses in the long term. However, they anticipate a one to two-year timeframe before implementing their initial solutions. This optimism stems from the potential of generative AI to revolutionize various aspects of businesses, from enhancing customer experiences to optimizing internal processes. In the short term, companies will likely focus on pilot projects and experimentation, gradually integrating generative AI into their operations as they witness its positive influence on efficiency and profitability.

Goldman Sachs’ Cautious Approach to Implementing Generative AI

In a recent interview, Goldman Sachs CIO Marco Argenti revealed that the firm has not yet implemented any generative AI use cases. Instead, the company focuses on experimentation and setting high standards before adopting the technology. Argenti recognized the desire for outcomes in areas like developer and operational efficiency but emphasized ensuring precision before putting experimental AI use cases into production.

According to Argenti, striking the right balance between driving innovation and maintaining accuracy is crucial for successfully integrating generative AI within the firm. Goldman Sachs intends to continue exploring this emerging technology’s potential benefits and applications while diligently assessing risks to ensure it meets the company’s stringent quality standards.

One possible application for Goldman Sachs is in software development, where the company has observed a 20-40% productivity increase during its trials. The goal is for 1,000 developers to utilize generative AI tools by year’s end. However, Argenti emphasized that a well-defined expectation of return on investment is necessary before fully integrating generative AI into production.

To achieve this, the company plans to implement a systematic and strategic approach to adopting generative AI, ensuring that it complements and enhances the skills of its developers. Additionally, Goldman Sachs intends to evaluate the long-term impact of generative AI on their software development processes and the overall quality of the applications being developed.

Goldman Sachs’ approach to AI implementation goes beyond merely executing models. The firm has created a platform encompassing technical, legal, and compliance assessments to filter out improper content and keep track of all interactions. This comprehensive system ensures seamless integration of artificial intelligence in operations while adhering to regulatory standards and maintaining client confidentiality. Moreover, the platform continuously improves and adapts its algorithms, allowing Goldman Sachs to stay at the forefront of technology and offer its clients the most efficient and secure services.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Google DeepMind; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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UK seizes web3 opportunity simplifying crypto regulations



Deanna Ritchie

As Web3 companies increasingly consider leaving the United States due to regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom must simplify its cryptocurrency regulations to attract these businesses. The conservative think tank Policy Exchange recently released a report detailing ten suggestions for improving Web3 regulation in the country. Among the recommendations are reducing liability for token holders in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and encouraging the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to adopt alternative Know Your Customer (KYC) methodologies, such as digital identities and blockchain analytics tools. These suggestions aim to position the UK as a hub for Web3 innovation and attract blockchain-based businesses looking for a more conducive regulatory environment.

Streamlining Cryptocurrency Regulations for Innovation

To make it easier for emerging Web3 companies to navigate existing legal frameworks and contribute to the UK’s digital economy growth, the government must streamline cryptocurrency regulations and adopt forward-looking approaches. By making the regulatory landscape clear and straightforward, the UK can create an environment that fosters innovation, growth, and competitiveness in the global fintech industry.

The Policy Exchange report also recommends not weakening self-hosted wallets or treating proof-of-stake (PoS) services as financial services. This approach aims to protect the fundamental principles of decentralization and user autonomy while strongly emphasizing security and regulatory compliance. By doing so, the UK can nurture an environment that encourages innovation and the continued growth of blockchain technology.

Despite recent strict measures by UK authorities, such as His Majesty’s Treasury and the FCA, toward the digital assets sector, the proposed changes in the Policy Exchange report strive to make the UK a more attractive location for Web3 enterprises. By adopting these suggestions, the UK can demonstrate its commitment to fostering innovation in the rapidly evolving blockchain and cryptocurrency industries while ensuring a robust and transparent regulatory environment.

The ongoing uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency regulations in various countries has prompted Web3 companies to explore alternative jurisdictions with more precise legal frameworks. As the United States grapples with regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom can position itself as a hub for Web3 innovation by simplifying and streamlining its cryptocurrency regulations.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jonathan Borba; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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