Why customer trust needs to be your top business priority

13th March 2015

In the current technology landscape, trust is becoming a ‘high-value currency’, with companies placing it at the top of their priority lists.

With the abundance of platforms, tools and technology, coupled with the rise of cybercrime, it’s no wonder that customers are having trouble knowing where to place their trust.

So when a consumer hears that a popular company like Uber has failed to communicate a data breach, the business industry as a whole loses another fragment of consumer faith.

Trust expert Rachel Botsman cites research by Gallup in 2015 revealing that public confidence had slumped across all major institutions, except the military and small business, to a historic low.

So what can businesses do to retain customer trust?

How do you build trust?

In a recent podcast, Ms Botsman says: “Questions like ‘how do we rebuild trust?’ Or, ‘how do we gain more trust?’ are the wrong ones to ask.

‘What you want to be asking is, ‘How do we become more trustworthy?’ You want to really understand where trust lies in your organisation. Trust [should] really [be] part of your DNA.’

Ultimately, trust isn’t manufactured – it’s woven into the fabric of your business.

In one extreme example, Buffer, the social media platform, has a strategy of total transparency. Co-founder Leo Widrich talks here about the company’s ‘open’ policy, which states that everything from employee salaries to company emails are published for all to see.

Small gestures and practical policies

But it doesn't have to be this extreme. Generally, all customers require are reassuring signs that you are taking the protection of their personal data seriously. Sometimes, all it takes is thoughtful, small-scale design decisions. For example, simple functionality can go a long way:

  • Fast loading times
  • A smooth UX experience
  • Clear navigational cues
  • A security icon or captcha feature

Genuinely valuing your customer information is an important factor in trust.  The Canon Business Readiness Index found that the level of concern from small businesses around their Information Security is too low, with 15% saying that they are not concerned about suffering a data breach in the next 12 months. A further 12% said that they have none of the recommended Australian Signals Directorate Essential 8 (ASD8) strategies in place to help prevent a breach.

Invite trust by showing you are well-prepared to deal with a breach. If a data breach occurs due to a hacking incident, handling it with sensitivity has been shown to boost trust with customers, rather than reduce it. Data breach preparations include:

  • Policy and monitoring – have a robust policy in place that every employee is required to read and prioritise
  • Transparency – always communicate details of a breach to the affected customers
  • Timing – don’t sit on it; send out a statement as soon as the company is in full possession of the facts and has alerted the authorities

Retain trust by showing that customers and their data are at the forefront of your company’s decision-making. In the long-run, it will be vital to the success of your business.

Of course, protection is always better than cure. The first step in any information security journey should be to complete an IT security management and risk assessment. Yet, only 56% of Australian businesses have done so according to the Canon Business Readiness Index.

Find out how to keep your valuable customer data in safe hands by speaking to Canon about our IT Security Essentials Assessment.  

Sources:

Harvard Business Review - How technology tests our trust.   
Harvard Business Review - Why trust matters more than ever.  
Wired - An Economy of Trust: How Transparency Is Changing the Tech Industry.
Harvard Business Review - The changing rules of trust in the digital age.
Deloitte Australian Privacy Index 2016.
Huffington Post - Rise of the cyber criminal
Canon - Business Readiness Index 2018

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