In the words of Rachel Botsman: “trust can’t be automated by technology. It can’t be fixed by compliance and regulation. Trust lies with us.” At the Aspen Ideas Festival 2018, Rachel, a University of Oxford academic, expanded on the topic of technology and trust. She spoke about the concept of living in a digital era that has influenced who and how we trust, both in personal lives and in business.
Flash forward a few years and the onset of a global pandemic inspired rapid digital revolutions across the board. With this, new concepts such as working from home and social distancing had people reassessing how they handle day-to-day interactions. In fact, PwC’s Pulse survey stated that 50% of consumers became more online and digital in the last part of 2021 than ever before, with technology becoming the primary method of connecting with businesses and people. With global eCommerce spending surging past $4 trillion last year, it can be expected that smart businesses will continue to hop on the digital bandwagon.
So where does ‘trust’ fall into all of this? Well, it would be a shame to waste digital investments made throughout the pandemic to facilitate B2B or B2C interactions. But with these digitisation trends comes a whole plethora of new ‘trust’ issues from data security through to sales transparency and authenticity.
In this blog we address how trust has become a new modern currency and how businesses can improve their digital trust.
An economy built on trust
Digitisation and living in a digitally focused world has left little room for businesses to get away with mistakes or keep secrets from consumers. While technology now provides organisations with access to consumer data such as personal shopping preferences and analytics, those consumers also have the scope to research and understand who, what, why and how a business operates. That’s where this element of trust comes in, especially when it comes to managing, keeping secure and sharing customer data. If this is not done correctly, the repercussions can be serious.
Enter ‘transparency’. This digitally modern world we now live in allows consumers more opportunities to access greater insights into the businesses they choose to engage with. If said businesses fail to provide a certain level of transparency, trust will diminish between that consumer and the business instantly. Today’s consumers care about company ethics, social corporate responsibility and sustainability claims, so as long as businesses keep this information transparent and honest, then trust can be maintained. In fact, businesses who set false expectations frustrated consumers, with 63% of consumers stating they would look elsewhere for alternate services or products. In the same study, a further 53% would stop doing business with that company almost immediately.
We mentioned previously how businesses are able to capture large amounts of consumer data. This poses another trust and transparency issue. It’s not just how they capture the data that’s important to consumers but what they do with it and how businesses keep this information secure. From the scandal regarding consumer data security that rocked Facebook, it’s evident how easily consumer trust can be lost if proper data protection safeguards are not in place. For example, Google, Apple and Amazon have placed data security at the core of their business. By assuring their consumers that their data is safe, trust is established. They provide transparency to customers on how their data is being used to personalise their experience by creating new products and services tailored to user needs.
How to improve your digital trust?
Here are a list of key tips to improve your businesses overall level of digital trust:
- Appoint a designated leader for trust: most companies have a ‘People & Culture’ leader for culture or a ‘Corporate Social Responsibility' leader for sustainability and giving back to the community. Trust should be the same and warrants the same strategic focus at a senior level. Take the time to identify a senior executive or manager who would be a suitable driving force for a culture of transparency and strong ethical standardisation across the business.
- Create new standards: data security procedures and firewalls are all important elements to have when securing digital trust but that is not all that needs to be done from a digital perspective. Create ethical standards for how data is secured, shared and managed across the business and allow this information to be available to consumers. Show them exactly how their personal data will be kept secure.
- Respect consumer data: respect what access you as a business have to your consumers data. This means only taking what is necessary and using it as it should be used - to improve the customer experience or journey. Don’t look to end up in the same category of companies that have been accused of selling consumer information. Allow your consumers to decide on what personal data can be shared as a starting point.
- Choose your partners carefully: make sure that you are doing proper research on any vendors, suppliers or partners your business chooses to engage with. Modern consumers aren’t just concerned with what your company does, but also who you engage with. For example, say your business uses an outsourcing provider to assist with certain tasks, make sure to do your research into their own ethics and standards to further strengthen your own digital trust.
The integration of technology, or intelligent data, into everything we do is bringing about enormous change in the way businesses operate and interact with their customers and organisations are prioritising digital solutions to adapt to consumer needs. It is now crucial for businesses to invest in digital technologies and products to keep up with the demands of the “always-connected” consumer. Digital solutions that allow them to respond more quickly and deliver a better customer experience are more important than ever in order to remain competitive and in turn, build on digital trust.