The X Index – A Trust Indicator

As a barometer for brand trust, the X Index measures customer experience across globally recognised brands. This assessment considers how trust is built, maintained, and broken in relationships with consumers. This includes brand image, customer service, relationships, purchase histories and product & service experiences.

In their research, it was found that only 40% of customers globally feel that the brands they interact with truly have their interests and needs at heart. To assess and deliver on customer needs, actions, perceptions, and narratives must align to provide the ultimate experience for the end customer.

Key Findings:

  • Commit to Trust
  • Build an Exclusive Experience
  • Always be of Service
  • Provide for the age of extra

Actions relating to these elements in turn help to produce or refine customer experiences that are just that – experiential – not simply mechanical. They help brands to narrow their efforts towards goals and the avoidance of common pitfalls, maximise their X Index rankings, and ultimately their measure for brand trust.

 

Brand Trust

According to action-perception theory, people perceive environments in terms of their ability to act within them. In other words, customer accounts of brands rely on their experiences with them, and these experiences stand the best chance of success when they are immersive and productive.

Primacy and recency effects also dictate that brands that people encounter early in their search for a product or service, and similarly, late in their search, will naturally outperform those brands that are stuck in the middle.

Psychologically speaking, these brands are innately mediocre compared to the first and the last in a search. So how do all these techniques help pave the way to a better level of brand trust? How can techniques such as advertising ensure that your brand is the first or last (or in a perfect world – both) that a potential new customer might see?

How can experiences be recreated to ensure they are more immersive, inclusive, and satisfying?

 

Goals and Pitfalls

Combined with other elements, action-perception (positive immersive experiences) and primacy & recency (early or late search advantage) can be combined with strong ethical stances, a ‘customer is always right attitude’, and the balance of well-struck humour.

Externally controlled elements such as reviews, or user-generated content also tie into the overarching category that is brand trust. But brands need to start with the internal elements with which they can exert some control. This also aids in limiting the potential for damage to be caused to any established level of brand trust. Cyber security, system hacks and data breaches are becoming increasingly common and paint brands in a negative light.

Poor internal or staff culture eventually makes its way to the public eye through disgruntled past employees on platforms such as Glassdoor or LinkedIn. Poor taste in humour, public sympathy or even collaborations with the wrong influencer has been known to backfire on brands and impact trust.

 

Summary

Brand trust is gaining increasing levels of coverage and exposure in mainstream marketing as a feature that is central to business and customers. No longer is it a complete dark art, lacking any sort of definition or measure. Thanks to the X Index barometer of brand trust, a measure of perceptions is available globally for businesses and brands to leverage.

As supported in both research and theory, actions and perceptions are intricately linked. Customer perceptions of brands are linked to the actions that they have experienced with those brands. These experiences can refer to a plethora of potential actions – Google searches, advertising exposure, website purchases, return of goods, etc etc.

The aim of building brand trust is to ensure that these actions produce positive perceptions of the brand. A tool for achieving this is providing interactions that create a sense of inclusion and investment for the customer.

Where a brand features in a search journey for a potential customer is also important in the initial impression of a brand. Those that feature first or last in a search are psychologically considered to be more trustworthy and preferred than those in the middle.

Tools for benefiting from this effect heavily rely on paid advertising. Finally, ethical, customer-centric and brand personality goals can aid in improving an X Index score, as can a focus on the avoidance of damage-causing elements. These include, but are not limited to poor internal brand culture, data and system breaches, and poor choice in collaborations, personality, and public sentiment.