What’s the Best Way to Build Digital Trust? Show Your Customers You Care About Their Data Privacy

April 22, 2019
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4 min read

Improving the customer experience is a top priority for organizations. Business leaders are focused on creating a seamless and personalized experience, but they are lacking in one crucial area: data privacy.

Protecting key customer data needs to be a strategic imperative for today’s businesses. To give customers a seamless experience, businesses must deliver digital trust, and ensuring privacy of critical personal information is a key pillar in building that trust.

Unfortunately, there’s a gap between what organizations are saying and what they are actually doing to protect customer privacy. According to Ponemon Institute’s fourth annual study on “The Cyber Resilient Organization,” 65 percent of security leaders agree that the role of privacy plays a large part in achieving strong cybersecurity posture, and 73 percent currently have a privacy leader in place.

Despite the high priority that leaders place on privacy, just half of security leaders are confident their businesses go beyond the basics for privacy, according to the MIT Sloan Management Review. The Ponemon report found that although security leaders acknowledge that strong privacy programs are important, teams are severely understaffed to properly maintain a strong culture of privacy.

How to Close the Data Privacy Gap and Build Digital Trust

Closing this gap and providing customer data privacy can have major benefits, including enhanced security, improved compliance and business growth. Consumers tend to purchase more from organizations they believe protect their personal data. In fact, 84 percent of consumers identify good data security and the protection of personal information as the key characteristic they look for when deciding where to spend their money.

Consumers today are more likely to do business with brands they trust, and will continue to do so as long as that trust holds strong. A big part of building trust is ensuring that when a customer hands over their personal information, they understand the organization is doing all it can to keep it safe from bad actors. With businesses acknowledging the importance of data privacy but lagging in actually delivering, what can be done to close the gap? Here are two places to start:

1. Build a Culture of Privacy

Any major shift in a business needs to grow into an organization-wide effort to make an impact. When the entire business is invested, these changes hold more weight, so getting buy-in all around is crucial. Leadership needs to promote and support this shift to customer privacy, and employees at all levels should take an interest and care about their customers’ privacy. Privacy and security teams may already be focused on these efforts, but total buy-in from the business will turn data privacy from a process shift into a cultural transformation.

This also helps make privacy efforts better and more efficient because leadership can allocate proper resources, such as the right data privacy tools and adequate staffing for the privacy team. However, it’s not just about hiring more people or buying more tools; privacy requires constant care, including testing current privacy policies and ensuring the business is always following best practices. Business-wide support and constant attention will show customers that the business is doing everything it can to keep their critical data safe.

2. Profess Your Love for Transparency

To give customers privacy assurance, it’s important to focus on transparency. There are too many headlines about businesses misusing data, selling it without consent, etc. that can erode consumer trust. Once the culture has been built and you’re being open and honest about what data you are taking and what you are doing with it, consumers will feel more confident in their transactions with you. Businesses should even take it a step further and be proactive in promoting the great data privacy programs and policies that are in place. Don’t be afraid to brag about it — profess your love for customer privacy.

On the other hand, doing the opposite is an easy way to lose customers’ trust. Not disclosing how you are using data, failing to properly protect it from outside threats or even disclosing when there has been a breach will lead customers to spend their money elsewhere. Building a strong, trusting relationship can pay off if something goes wrong as well. Consumers will be more forgiving if they already have heard from the organization that their data is being handled honestly and is being protected.

To be transparent, businesses need the proper staffing, programs and tools required to determine where a customer’s personal data exists within the organization, who has access to it and where vulnerabilities may exist. Building the culture first and understanding the data will make being open, honest and transparent much more impactful for customers.

Digital Trust Can Help Grow Your Business

Once these two areas have been addressed, companies can get back to growing business and iterating on their privacy and digital experience from there. With built-up trust, customers will feel secure with the organization and become more likely to increase their engagement throughout the entire buying process. This can lead to winning greater wallet share and minimize lost revenue from fraud and erosion of consumer trust.

Having this trust in place allows for more growth through tactics such as personalization, cross-selling and upselling. If the consumer feels more trusting of the brand, they can share more of their personal data, which could be used for a personal purchase offer or to share new products. Beyond following secure data protection practices, establishing strong trust with customers can offer many revenue growth opportunities for businesses.

Learn More About Delivering Digital Trust

John Pinkham
Product Marketing Manager for IBM Security Solutions

John Pinkham is a product marketing manager for the IBM Security Solutions team. John has experience in marketing security products and solutions through pro...
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