Consumer Trust Is The Currency Of Business—Now More Than Ever
In 2019, consumer trust in brands reached a new low. In the wake of events like Facebook’s involvement in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, many consumers felt companies didn’t operate with their best interests in mind and agreed that trust was a major factor in their buying decisions.
Fast forward to 2020: A global pandemic has brought consumer trust to another critical juncture. As more of the world enters quarantine to stop the virus’s spread, daily activities are moving online. Video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Google Hangouts are facilitating everything from social gatherings to K-12 classes to therapy sessions. Online exercise company Peloton saw app downloads increase five times more in March than February. Instacart said its orders have surged as much as 150% in some places. Digital services are no longer simply a convenience; they are a necessity.
Businesses that are racing to offer more digital services during this time (and beyond it) have to balance the pace at which they can meet the digital needs of their customers with the responsibility of protecting consumer data.
Some businesses will make the unfortunate mistake of prioritizing innovation ahead of data privacy compliance -- but one doesn't have to be sacrificed for the other. Just like the invention and evolution of brakes enabled cars to go faster, data compliance and data governance, when done right, can accelerate the pace at which a business innovates rather than slowing it down.
Rapid responses require a strong digital strategy.
More and more companies are working directly with government organizations to help disseminate information to communities. For example, in March, Apple launched an informational app to help customers stay informed about the virus. Boston-based Buoy Health is putting its AI-health assistant to work screening Massachusetts residents for coronavirus symptoms, lightening the load on local hospitals while they deal with a rising number of cases. The key to these rapid responses is digital infrastructure.
Companies like Apple and Buoy Health are able to quickly release digital tools because they have strong digital strategies in place. They’re able to use data to leverage technologies such as the cloud and enable continuous innovation. This creates an environment for rapidly testing and deploying high-quality digital experiences that meet customer needs. And the ability to respond quickly to rapid shifts in customer needs can both increase consumer confidence in these companies and equip them to withstand fluctuations in the market over time.
Protect data not because it’s mandated, but because customers expect it.
With more of our daily lives moving online, more sensitive data is at risk. But for some companies, the economic situation caused by the pandemic is causing a deprioritization of privacy efforts. For example, in a recent letter to the California attorney general, a number of companies asked for forbearance on the upcoming enforcement deadline of the California Consumer Privacy Act.
Consumers still expect companies to protect their personal privacy and security. According to a March report from 451 Research, 89% of consumers reported being concerned with protecting their personal data. That data is more at risk than ever before, with hackers taking advantage of the crisis. Reports show increases in everything from phishing attempts to distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks to ransomware attacks. Businesses are gambling with their reputation and consumer trust when they fail to prioritize security and privacy.
Revenue lost can be salvaged, but trust lost once is often lost forever.
Technology is a critical tool for ensuring that businesses can rise to meet customer expectations. That’s especially true as the current healthcare crisis begins to redefine the relationship between companies and their customers. Rather than a transactional relationship, it’s becoming much more nuanced. Beyond traditional goods and services, these companies are providing everything from access to important information to a means of connection between family and friends.
And in that new relationship, trust is key. Now is not the time to squander that trust.
This article originally appeared on Forbes.com as part of Delphix CMO Monika Saha's ongoing column. See the original post here.