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How to use IT to engage customers and build trust

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Are you underestimating the value of personally engaging with customers? Are you doing enough to build their trust?


Customers have high expectations that are continuing to rise. According to the Optus Future of Business Report 2014, 59 per cent of consumers want to interact with a real person when making contact with an organisation. Forty-one per cent expect businesses to be honest and transparent – and that figure is set to increase to 50 per cent within two years.  


Two keynote speakers at the Optus Business annual conference, Vision 2014, focused on personal engagement and trust when discussing the impact of new technology on customer experience.


Digital education is being shaped by academic culture


Sherman Young, Macquarie University’s Pro Vice Chancellor for Learning, Teaching and Diversity, talked about how academic culture was as important as technology in shaping higher education’s transformation.


Unlike many IT commentators, Young didn’t see technology as the driver of change. “It’s the enabler of change,” he said.


He cited the example of Macquarie University’s new library. Given the rapid adoption of ebooks and online journals, the university had an ideal opportunity to build a totally digital library.


“The reality, though, is there is an embedded culture in academia that loves books,” Young said. Instead, the university adopted a blended solution. It built the first automated storage and retrieval system in an Australian library – and kept its paper-based books.


“It’s a perfect example of an appropriate technology – a blended one – that’s not purely a technology-based solution, but one that has a human and cultural dimension.”


Build customer trust and gain a competitive advantage


Malcolm Crompton, Managing Director of Information Integrity Solutions (IIS), talked about how privacy and trust were becoming valuable assets as enterprises came to grips with big data.


A former Privacy Commissioner of Australia, Crompton questioned the notions that customers were willing to trade their privacy for convenience and that consumers loved highly targeted advertising.


“Sometimes targeting or being too intimate with people is a bit like the stalker who thinks it’s okay if he comes with up a box of chocolates and some flowers,” he commented.


He pointed to research that showed Australians were among the least willing people in the world to trade privacy for convenience.


The way to avoid these traps and encourage more openness from customers is to build a relationship with them, but there are no shortcuts.


As Crompton said: “Most relationships aren’t instantaneous – they take time. The important thing about a relationship is that as it builds, so does trust, and the exchange of information becomes more willing.”


For more details on how to engage customers and build trust, see the full paper – How to use IT the right way to deliver a great customer experience.


By Allan Burdekin, Optus Business Manager Industry Development. More from Allan on Twitter: @AllanBurdekin


All views expressed are authors own.

About the Author
With 20 years of experience in the ICT industry, Allan Burdekin is a former member of the National Consultative Committee for Security and Risk (5 years) and the National Standing Committee on Cloud Based Computer Services (2 Years). Prior to joining Optus, Allan was Head of Salmat Speech Australia which specialised in Natural Language Speech (NLSR) and biometric solutions. Allan also held the position of General Manager at KAZ Business Services. Responsible for Sales, Consulting and Industry Development, he lead a team focused on process improvement, industry based solutions and business process outsourcing. Prior to KAZ Allan held a number of General Management positions in Telstra focussing on convergent business.