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July 20, 2016
The importance of digital trust amidst decreasing loyalty
By: Rachel Barton

Trust is key. Without it, most consumers simply won’t engage. Today’s consumers understand that their data is valuable for companies; they can exchange it for anything from privileged access to a site, to product offers, to personalised customer service. But as many as eight out of ten consumers won’t do business with a company they don’t trust to keep their data secure, and only half feel it’s acceptable for a company to track their buying habits or sell their data to third parties in exchange for providing customer discounts. As newer technologies continue to enable different forms of data to be tracked and measured, much of this newer data is more personal, more intimate and harvested from every corner of our lives.

How can companies continue to gain consumer trust?
Trust is now harder to win than ever before, and it’s also becoming more ephemeral.

Yet trust is simultaneously becoming more important for businesses than ever before with most (83 percent) believing trust to be the cornerstone to success for digital businesses. Without trust digital businesses can’t use and share the data that underpins their operations. With the Digital Economy projected to be worth $100 trillion by 2025, there is no room for failure.

Companies need to continually demonstrate that they not only have consumers’ best interests at heart, but that they have strong data integrity and security. As it becomes easier than ever to switch loyalties companies must work hard to keep the trust of their consumers—evidenced by a switching economy now worth £221 billion in the UK alone.

Trust is slippery
We’re increasingly seeing how slippery trust can be, with just a single event potentially causing instant and far-reaching loss of trust. Apple learnt the hard way following their 2014 iCloud breach and the huge dent to their consumer confidence. They responded by renewing their focus on transparency and "baking in" strong security and ethics for their new platforms such as Apple Pay and HealthKit. As a result, Apple customers have more confidence that their digital footprints are private and secure.

We’re also seeing more examples of companies earning this trust through clever product design and marketing. Take L’Oréal Paris for example who created Makeup Genius—a tool for consumers to test makeup products. Users can scan a barcode at the point of sale and instantly experience the most premium and innovative Before and After service. Another example is Burberry who collaborated with WeChat for the launch of their flagship Shanghai store to enable invited fans to unlock more details of the brand and event by swiping or tapping their devices in accordance with digital displays. The resulting social buzz they produced tapped into the trust factor of peer-to-peer recommendation, helping consumers to trust the reviews in a way they wouldn’t have done through standard advertising.

Once gained, trust must be nurtured but also protected to prevent outsiders gaining unauthorised access. Next generation, data-centric security is vital and this philosophy is revolutionising identity and access management. Companies like InAuth and BioCatch are now important players helping companies to improve mobile device security or employing multi-factor authentication that considers the way users interact with devices as a way to verify and provide persistent identity.

It’s not just consumer trust that companies need to earn.
Companies need to gain the trust of individuals, ecosystems, and regulators in the digital economy. Companies can do this by possessing strong security and ethics at each stage of the customer journey as well as ensuring that new products and services are ethical and secure-by-design.

So, what can companies do now?

  1. Build a foundation of security: Use next generation security software

  2. Move beyond legal and IT: Provide clear accountability of who your “chief trust officer” is and what the company is doing with consumer data.

  3. Create a value exchange: Understand the drivers of trust by segment in order to co-create, co-ideate and co-develop with customers. Work in partnership and share the gains.

  4. Explore the ecosystem: Don’t let your own lack of trust prevent you from the potential of a wider ecosystem play

  5. Become the broker: Create a marketplace for your customers to trade and monetise their own data and propositions. Once you earn the trust you can do anything.

Businesses that get this right will enjoy such high levels of trust that their customers will look to them as guides for the digital future.

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