How do you know what movies to watch? Reviews in your local paper? Rotten Tomatoes rankings? Suggestions from your friends?

Data suggests you seek the opinions of people who share similar tastes—so if you’re a sci-fi fan, you’ll look for recommendations not only from other sci-fi fans, but fans who also like the same movies you like. Because they are people like you.

This data-driven thesis has been a cornerstone of the Edelman Trust Barometer for nearly 15 years. People consistently rank “someone like me” as the most trusted source of information. Unsurprisingly, companies, governments, and NGOs often rank as the least trustworthy sources of information.

So how do you avoid becoming just another untrustworthy company, and connect with a customer in a meaningful way? “Brands need to become ‘a person like me,’” says CRM expert Paul Greenberg, author of CRM at the Speed of Light, in his webinar about the 21st century customer.

To further complicate matters, he says, customers talk to each other (instead of companies) about which brands and products to trust. “You don’t actually need to know anything about who is on the other side of a[n online] review, but you trust them … because you [already] feel you have something in common,” says Greenberg.

For brands to gain customer trust, they not only need to communicate like a person (instead of a marketing robot), they also need to focus specifically on customer engagement. “We can quantify the value of engaged customers and disengaged customers,” Greenberg states. Engagement, he continues, is “happiness, it’s self-interest, and it’s helping steer our way down the happiness path.” In other words, the customer constantly asks, “what’s in it for me?”

What does that mean for the use of CRM? Everything. Customers who encounter a fractured experience across channels immediately judge your brand as inauthentic. If you had a single point of view, it would be evident at every touch in their experience. Developing relationships with customers that build trust requires engaging them in the way they want to be engaged, on the channels they use, in a way that comes across as authentic. 

It is only by understanding all of these aspects of your customers that you can begin an authentic engagement with them.

Want to earn your customers’ trust? Start learning how by watching the entire webinar on demand.

Watch Paul's webinar now