Building trust in the digital age

The technologies we use today are increasingly built on digital information, not just nuts and bolts. As businesses move from the physical to the digital; the issues of trust, privacy and cyber security are increasingly in the spotlight. They’re top concerns for potential customers and business partners.[1] And the products and services we love are underpinned by our data.

In fact almost 9 out of 10 people identify good data security and the protection of personal information, as a key characteristic they look for when deciding where to spend.[2] This is according to new research from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

Commitment to data privacy is key for your business to successfully operate in the modern economy. Especially as having a good cyber security strategy can make your business more competitive.[3]

Why is digital trust so important?

High profile data breaches, scandals around information sharing and new international regulations such as GDPR, have rightly focused the spotlight on the way data is used.

The chief policy director at the CBI, Matthew Fell, stated cyber security has a direct impact on consumer trust.[4] By examining connections between data, trust and technology, CBI found:

  • 54% of the general public believe companies may have misused their data in the past
  • 73% of the general public want to understand more about how their data is used[5]

Irresponsible data use is a big motive for customers to look elsewhere to meet their needs. Over 1 in 10 consumers will stop using a company’s product or service over data misuse.[6] It’s worth asking yourself, do your customers trust you with their data?

What can your business do to build digital trust?

Engaging with your customers over their personal data is important. They want a clear roadmap of how their data is collected, used, shared, or erased. This can create clarity and trust through the mist of the legalistic jargon.

The CBI’s top tips are:

Go beyond your legal requirements of a privacy policy.

Strive for transparency. 50% of people want greater transparency of how data is used. And 48% want it to be easier to delete the data they’ve shared.[7]

Review your policy in Plain English. T&Cs often sit in a forgotten corner of a website, or in the small print at the back of a brochure. They’re simply not fit for purpose and rarely written for the customer. This creates more fear, doubt and uncertainty.

Tell your customers about their data rights.

There’s a lot of confusion regarding data. Over half of consumers (54%) said they’re not aware of what rights they have when sharing data.[8] 

You can make your business stand out by breaking some of that confusion down. Tell your customers exactly how you use the information they trust you with. Take the opportunity to articulate the benefits they will reap from your use of their data. Better recommendations, more relevant offers and more timely instructions.

Always check you’re using data in the way your customers expects[9]

Make sure you know what you’re doing. 49% of the general public said they didn’t believe businesses have their best interests at heart when using their personal data.[10]

Many online resources can help you update your knowledge. Sites like getsafeonline.org, offer a good overview of current legislation. For businesses of a certain size, or those particularly data focused by nature, a Data Protection Officer may be needed.

It’s important to carry out the steps mentioned above to build that trust. You may also want to make arrangements internally on how to handle a breach. This is just as important as building trust as your next actions will be watched carefully. Your customers care about their data and privacy. And they need to trust that your business does too.

Wherever your business is on its digital journey, it’s important that you take your customers with you. Their data concerns should be your concerns too.


[1] http://www.cirmagazine.com/cir/Data-security-deciding-factor-for-9-out-of-10-customers.php

[2] http://www.cbi.org.uk/news/almost-9-out-of-10-people-say-businesses-that-protect-their-data-will-win-their-custom/

[3] http://www.cirmagazine.com/cir/Data-security-deciding-factor-for-9-out-of-10-customers.php

[4] http://www.cbi.org.uk/news/almost-9-out-of-10-people-say-businesses-that-protect-their-data-will-win-their-custom/

[5] http://www.cbi.org.uk/insight-and-analysis/building-trust-in-the-digital-economy/


[7] http://www.cirmagazine.com/cir/Data-security-deciding-factor-for-9-out-of-10-customers.php

[8] http://www.cirmagazine.com/cir/Data-security-deciding-factor-for-9-out-of-10-customers.php

[9] http://www.cirmagazine.com/cir/Data-security-deciding-factor-for-9-out-of-10-customers.php

[10] http://www.cirmagazine.com/cir/Data-security-deciding-factor-for-9-out-of-10-customers.php