Today’s ‘Digital Age’ is a fast-paced, complex environment where consumers have a wealth of information at their fingertips and purchase decisions are becoming increasingly shorter. Beyond this, the ‘Era of COVID’ is adding a complicated series of restrictions on individuals that are impacting their behaviors, engagements and preferences and tends to continually shift. This results in challenging waters for the typical brand to navigate to not only deliver relevance and engage consistently, but also effectively motivate the customer and foster a connection with them.

Evidential Value
These shifts with customers and changes in markets are exponentially increasing the need for evidential understanding of tendencies and trends so that the brand knows how to align, where to communicate and when to engage. The foundation for effective understanding is data-driven, left in the clues and context of the digital footprints consumers leave across their experiences, whether in searches, reviews, clicks or feedback.

There is a wealth of information within these engagements that every individual provides, and most knowingly so. In fact, according to Gladly’s 2020 Customer Expectations Report, 84 percent of consumer respondents say they spend more with brands that provide personalised customer service and 77 percent say they are more likely to recommend a brand to friends and family if personalised experiences are provided. In other words, the typical consumer expects, if not demands, that brands use the information that they are providing them through their digital engagements.

Eroding Trust
Aside from this, consumers are widely becoming increasingly savvy with their purchase decisions. Many consumers have trust issues in the market which are often driven by quality, convenience, reliability and trust. However, according to Accenture, over half of consumers will quit doing business with a brand after a bad experience with 54 percent bolting to a competing brand and 25 percent taking their grievances to social media.

There is also a pervasive element of trust around information given the ‘fake news’ phenomena across the digital world, which is a driver in the consumer reliance on ratings and reviews for many products and services today. So, overcoming the perception of propaganda in communications and marketing are also vital components.

These are high stakes and illustrate that consumers are not only savvy, but also demanding. This is essentially why evidence is so critical to the success of a brand today. Understanding the elements that guide a customer are essential in having the ability to motivate their behavior and foster their loyalty.

Evidence Fundamentals
Too many brands view evidence, however it is termed, intelligence, insights, knowledge or understanding, as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Like the experiences delivered to customers, the evidential points around a customer should be tailored as well. And while the data sources can be used across the customer base, how they are used can strategically vary based on the issue that is being addressed.

Also, evidence across the organization should be diverse in nature and synthesised in order to deliver a comprehensive view of the customer. This places a strong need on diverse datasets to be collected and integrated, while also being distributed and consumed by teams across the company to determine decisions, drive strategy, deliver experiences and develop innovation. It’s also important that this diversity of data should include both internal and external perspectives in order for the brand to gain a holistic understanding.

Evidential Benefits
Growing an operation on a foundation of evidence not only builds the trust of the customer through fact-based communications, data-driven experiences and aligned engagements, but just as importantly also elevates the trust of the employees across a company. Teams that make decisions and set strategy on impartial facts tend to operate more efficiently and often more emotion-free as a group. This ‘just the facts’ approach also helps to build consensus and commitment to decisions whereas ‘gut check’ or ’instinctual’ decision making tends to bring along questions, doubts and even resentment from team members.

Beyond this, evidential intelligence typically helps the brand to become customer-centric on a more efficient, effective basis since the facts and evidence drive the decisions. This insight also helps to facilitate changes in real-time to understand and align with the customer.

In the end, evidence has never been more essential to brands in order to align with and satisfy the needs of customers. Those smart brands that embrace and engage diverse evidential intelligence in their operations are more often than not the most impressive success stories in today’s ‘Digital Age’ in the ‘Era of COVID.’ The benefits of this span not only the customer base, but also run deep across the organization.