Most people can name a recent example of online data being compromised, and consumers have become more concerned about how organizations protect their data. Whether the data in question is a physical location, credit card numbers or buying preferences, modern, tech-savvy consumers are thinking long and hard about digital trust risks and the privacy of their data.

“It’s not now just about price, feature, and benefits, it’s not even about history and legacy, it is about trust,” said researcher Mark McCrindle on behalf of Blackmores, an Australian vitamin company, according to CMO. “Every brand must build and maintain trust, particularly because the customer is more skeptical and empowered.”

In This Article

The Consumer Confidence Crisis

Consumer confidence in brands has dropped to a historic low. According to the “2018 Edelman Trust Barometer,” 7 in 10 industries are solidly in “distrust territory.” Customers are increasingly aware that their decision to share personal data with brands could have significant implications, and new legislation backs the customer’s right to opt out of untrustworthy brand engagements.

As organizations work to build customer-focused, digital business models, it’s critical to consider the role of trust and privacy in the customer journey. Delivering digital trust isn’t a matter of propping up a secure website or app, or avoiding a costly, embarrassing data breach. It’s about creating a digital experience that exceeds customer expectations, allows frictionless access to goods and services, and protects customers’ right to privacy while using the data they share to create customized, valuable experiences.

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Why Failure to Build Trust Is Risky

There are clear risks facing organizations that fail to deliver trust-inspiring digital experiences. The staggering reputational costs to brands that suffer a data breach underline how easily trust is broken and how difficult it can be to restore. However, even without security incidents, there could be significant consequences for brands that don’t transform the customer experience.

Customers who experience friction as part of the digital experience may choose to go elsewhere, impacting profitability. Brands that lack transparent data privacy practices could struggle to build strong customer relationships if the consumer feels that the interaction is “sketchy” or too invasive. There’s also risk for the organization: If it can’t tell the difference between legitimate customer transactions and costly fraud, it may throw up frustrating security barriers or risk loss due to account compromise or other fraudulent activities.

How to Measure Digital Trust With Business Outcomes

“Digital trust is not a method, product or service,” wrote IBM security orchestration, automation and response leader Matthew Konwiser. “It’s a philosophy that acknowledges why … businesses stay in business; their clients trust them.”

Digital trust can be measured in business outcomes. While these aspects are more complex than security metrics or compliance, they are critical. Digital trust results from a shift in how the organization approaches the customer journey, which can be measured in the following business outcomes.

Outcome No. 1: Build User Trust

Organizations should transform digital customer experiences to create a secure and seamless customer journey across digital products. This reinforces customer trust while providing internal visibility into customer behavior. Increased trust should result in greater customer loyalty and greater share of wallet.

Outcome No. 2: Drive Growth

Organizations that focus on digital trust continuously work to improve user experience and strengthen internal security safeguards. By utilizing security solutions that assess risk and only add verification when needed, there are fewer false positives and security teams can focus where needed. Automation and authentication based on risk scoring can streamline customer access and reduce workload for already over-tasked IT/security staff.

Outcome No. 3: Create Efficiency

Brands should continuously work to offer an improved user experience and strengthen internal security safeguards. Leaders at trust-driven organizations prioritize operational efficiency gains and risk reduction.

Why You Should Shift to a Trust-Focused Model

While digital trust isn’t the exclusive goal or responsibility of the security department, the CISO is a diplomat in the transformation process. At a trust-focused organization, security risk is recognized as business risk. Business leaders should actively support the need for persistent visibility into digital customer behavior, even as the cybersecurity team works to strengthen safeguards against threat actors and data privacy risks.

Trust should feel seamless for trusted customers with barriers only appearing to threat actors. Cognitive solutions and analytics can provide visibility into a customer’s movements across digital platforms and identify risks by comparing real-time data to a baseline of known threats. When an abnormal pattern of customer logins, transactions or behavior is identified, the system should automate an immediate response to further authenticate users or isolate risks.

The process of delivering digital trust is about more than security and technology, however. It’s a shift in leadership that places the customer experience at the center of digital transformation. Trust-focused organizations adopt design thinking processes to create digital products based on the customer journey and architect secure DevOps. Baked-in security offers greater assurance against risks and creates a more seamless digital experience across channels.

Empathy Is at the Core of Trust Delivery

Digital trust is a moving target, like any other strategic business goal. Your organization can’t rely on stagnant strategies to grow profitability or address risks. To build lasting customer relationships, organizations must understand that trust is a dynamic pursuit that requires agility.

Empathy toward the customer is at the core of trust delivery. As customer attitudes about privacy and behaviors shift, enterprise practices and technology must keep up with evolving data privacy threats, compliance requirements and client behaviors. The importance of trust is unlikely to diminish, but delivering trust-inspiring customer experiences requires a culture of design thinking, continuous improvement and security by default.

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