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Crisis of Trust - Digital Organisations

Trust Series #4 - Trust is more than the safety of one’s data

Published on
November 1, 2019

In this blog series we’re talking about trust across the banking and financial services, the insurance industry, and the digital space. In the first blog, we talked about what exactly trust is, why trust is important in business, and how exactly businesses can begin to tackle the complex nuances of trust with their customers. Our point of view has been developed from qualitative research with customers, from which we developed a persona matrix for businesses to better understand their customers.

The previous blog posts focused on trust in the banks and financial services, and the insurance industry respectively. In this final blog of the series, we are focusing on trust in the digital space.

Top elements of trust in the digital space

After decades of unbridled enthusiasm – bordering on addiction – about all things digital, the public may be losing trust in technology. Online information isn’t often unreliable, whether it appears in the form of news, search results or user reviews. Social media, in particular, is vulnerable to manipulation by hackers or foreign powers. Personal data isn’t necessarily private. And people are increasingly worried about automation and artificial intelligence taking humans’ jobs. (The Conversation, 2018)

Users have traditionally had a ‘nothing to hide’ mindset when it comes to their data

Users are generally accepting when it comes to handing over their data to the digital brands as they perceive their individual data as unimportant or uninteresting enough for it to be used in the wrong way. This mindset is reaffirmed when users believe themselves to be safe from cyber attacks or if users feel they have nothing to hide.

“I don’t have anything to hide so I’m not worried about my data.”
“I don’t care about the data breaches because it hasn’t happened to me. I’m in my own bubble.”
“Why would someone want to hack me?”

Digital brands are seen as a necessity in this day and age

Despite some hesitancy, users feel an overwhelming need to belong to the digital ecosystem out of social necessity. They believe that they are likely to lose out on social connection, if they cancel their digital accounts. It appears as though young users especially struggle with this social pressure.

“Today, private lives are no longer private, but what can you do? You’re either in it or you’re isolated from the whole world.”
“I’m trying to move away, but I need to stay relevant. If you’re not on social media you lose the social connection.”
“There is always an element of fear. You either give up your data or you don’t use the brand.”

However, user behaviours are changing because of recent events

Whilst users are mostly comfortable with sharing a certain baseline amount of data, they are uneasy or cautious when this line is crossed. Given recent data controversies, some consumers are actively uploading less content on sites like Facebook.

”The predictive text in Gmail is supposed to be helpful, but I think it’s an invasion of privacy.”
“How does my phone know where my home is?”
“I’m a lot more wary of what I put up on Facebook now, because of what’s happened.

Trust is more than the safety of one’s data

Although recent controversies have impacted some users’ digital behaviours, many have lost greater trust when other issues have arisen. For instance, trust is often impacted when users encounter ‘fake news’, sponsored content, altered social media photos, and cyberbullying. Mental health issues can also impact a users’ usage of digital brands.

”Facebook is less trustworthy because there are a lot of things you can’t control, like cyberbullying.”
“Social media makes me feel really panicked about likes, so I don’t use it.”
“I wanted to delete my account because I was in a bad headspace, which is hard when you have to demonstrate your best self.”

So given this shaky climate of trust, what can brands do to regain customers’ trust?

First, it’s critical to understand the role of trust as it relates to your company in your industry. Trust is highly contextual but through research, you can baseline consumer perceptions. Once this has been established, it’s about developing a systematic program of work to progressively rebuild trust through action. This could include new product offerings and value propositions, building new digital capability, or implementing process changes that better support customer outcomes and empowerment.

Benchmarking trust is the start of your journey, and we’re ready to get you started.

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