To trust, or not to trust? That is the question more and more consumers are asking themselves as they engage with the digital marketplace. One of the most popular uses for Twitter is consumers lashing out at virtual marketplaces – be it insurance, real estate, or retail – because of constant calls or suspected data breaches. However, beneath this frustration is a customer voicing that a service has broken their trust and they are willing to look elsewhere. It is a sign that there is a massive trust deficit in the digital marketplace.
Seeds of mistrust
There are several factors that contribute to a consumer’s decision to stop trusting a portal. Including, poor website UI/UX, systematic problems and a poor end user experience. A marketplace may not be directly responsible for the reliability of the product, but they do face the brunt for unmet expectations. However, coming back to the Twitter example, one of the leading causes for the existing trust deficit is the lack of data security.
A customer shares personal information believing it will make an acquisition convenient and trusting that it will not be misused. However, if persistent spam follows, doubt sets in. He/she then wonders, has a portal sold their data? Has their data been hacked? Is it safe to continue using it? And if word gets around, it sows doubt into first time customers as well.
In many cases though, it is telemarketers, spammers or even con artists who have gained access to this data that overwhelm customers or extort them, often in the name of a marketplace or a seller, tarnishing their reputation and putting customers on the defensive.
What do organisations do to overcome this trust deficit?
Building trust in a virtual world is tough business, but it can be done and maintained. Of course, it starts with creating a user experience with as little friction as possible, vetting buyers and bringing value to the customer. But let’s take a closer look at coping with doubts when it comes to privacy and data protection.
Secure security strategies
Advances in technology are your best friend but they can also be your worst enemy. With more resources and tools available to malicious elements cyberattacks are inevitable. The need then is to strengthen security measures. Apart from other technology investments, regularly updating firewalls and other security measures must be a priority. It will reassure customers that they are putting their data in safe hands.
Convenience vs privacy
Enhancing digital security comes with a trade off: added steps like, multiple passwords and identity authentication. However, this could add friction to the user experience, as what customers really want is convenience. Not just when signing up for a service, but at every stage – be it personalized recommendations or easy buying options. But convenience usually requires customer data and fewer security measures. The trick is to find a balance between a seamless experience and proper data protection so that customers feel comfortable using a service time and again.
Empowering customers to make their own choices about the data they share also goes a long way to quell concerns and reduce defensive behavior. When customers can control information and manage privacy settings, they have a hand in protecting their data and that strengthens trust.
Responsible corporate privacy practices are essential. As with any relationship, lies can shatter trust, so don’t lie. If information is requested, the customer should be made aware of why and who will be able to access it. And in the event of a system failure or other fault, it should be owned up to and addressed immediately. It is important not to violate promises made or leave the customer to find out from another source, especially the media.
Also vital is not alienating a customer. If a concern about data protection is raised or maybe a spam or fraud related issue brought to light, address it. Immediately, respond to the customer and assure him/ her that it is as much a concern for the organisation and is being looked into. And ensure that it is.
Trust is easily built, it is in retaining it that the digital marketplace sees a deficit. Yes, it may be complex and require investing resources but that commitment will inspire trust and loyalty that will see businesses soar.
(The author Aditya Vuchi is Founder & CEO, Doosra and the views expressed in this article are his own)