Three steps to engineering customer loyalty by building digital trust

Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned that their personal data, such as health details, credit card numbers, and financial information, possessed by companies is becoming too intractable, vulnerable, and beyond their comfort levels.

In fact, more than half (54%) of digital consumers are cautious about the personal information they share online, according to an Accenture’s survey of 24,000 consumers in 24 countries.

Related survey results, insights, and infographics can be found in two Accenture reports: Engaging the Digital Consumer in the New Connected World and Digital Trust in the Internet of Things (IoT) Era.

We are in un-chartered territory. The Internet of Things (IoT) world centers on unprecedented information generation, storing, and sharing between an exponentially growing number of devices and networks.

> See also: Why privacy concerns will hinder trust in the Internet of Things

By the year 2020, nearly half of consumers will own a connected IoT device, the survey finds. Home cameras, smartwatches and fitness devices will be in especially high demand.

Because of this, communications, media and high-tech companies are struggling with how to gain digital trust from consumers. Companies that earn the most consumer trust will be the best positioned to capitalise on numerous business opportunities.

For example, using analytics tools they can tap into the abundance of consumers’ personal data to glean new, valuable and actionable insights.

With these new insights they will able to fine-tune their strategic decisions aimed at delivering consumers more trustworthy, personalised, and satisfying digital experiences.

Trust: a personal sentiment

In the IoT era, immense opportunities exist for businesses to leverage analytics tools to convert data into insights and drive relevant and compelling products and services. But consumers must be assured any company that collects their digital data protects it.

This assurance will bond a business and consumer and catalyse sales of products and services. Trust is a personal sentiment for consumers. They want to know their information resides in safe hands.

With this in mind, Accenture has identified three steps companies can take to preserve digital trust while rolling out IoT products and services.

Accountability: choosing business collaborators that consumers trust

One lucrative opportunity is aggregating IoT data and building business-to-business collaborations that combine IoT services beneficial to each company or consumer. Identifying the appropriate businesses with which to collaborate is paramount.

When negotiating these joint relationships, companies should consider building capabilities that facilitate more collaboration and leverage the unique reputation and brand each company represents to consumers.

Companies should also consider establishing a transparent model specifying what data gets sourced from who and how the consumer uses a device.

Security: moving away from passwords

Accenture’s survey confirms that consumers want alternatives to usernames and passwords to access smartphones, PCs, websites and various other password-protected sources. More than three-quarters (77%) would consider replacing passwords with a better option.

Companies should consider biometric methods that determine access based on unique physical identifiers such as fingerprints, palm prints, irises and voice recognition. Providing more secure options, these methods eliminate the need to remember a long password or change it constantly.

> See also: How to retain customer trust in an age of insecurity

During the next few years Accenture believes biometrics will likely supplement passwords and, in some cases, replace them.

Privacy: walking fine line

If consumers are not given the opportunity to opt in to advertisements or offers targeted for them, or if they do not recall giving permission, they are likely to consider these privacy violations.

For companies looking to cross-sell and up-sell to customers, they need to establish clear guidelines on data used to administer these activities. 

Companies often rely on consumers clicking through terms and conditions few people read. How can anyone be expected to understand what information they gave permission to share when offered in lengthy legalese?

For businesses to build digital trust, an opt-in program should be easy to understand. Consumers should be given some control over who uses their personal information and how.

Sourced from Luke Mills, managing director, Accenture Consulting

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...