When seeking a digital advantage, is consumer trust the missing piece of the puzzle?

By

EY Americas

Multidisciplinary professional services organization

5 minute read 8 May 2019
Related topics Alumni Digital Trust Customer

Show resources

When building a digital customer experience (DCX), businesses cannot afford to overlook the value of consumer trust.

The EY 2018 Global Alumni Survey of over 9,000 EY alumni found that data security was top of the agenda: 61% chose this as the most important factor for building a successful DCX. And the cost to businesses of not getting this right can be huge - if consumers do not trust how companies use their data, they will avoid their products and services.

Yet, consumer trust is a rare asset. The public’s faith in data has been shaken by a range of issues, including disinformation, data breaches and ethical failings. Despite those issues, the survey finds that businesses enjoy a relative trust advantage. While close to two-thirds of alumni say that performance reporting and news from corporates and their CEOs are credible, this drops significantly for governments.

Businesses enjoy a trust advantage

63%

Close to two-thirds of alumni say that performance reporting and news from corporates and their CEOs are credible

Businesses enjoy a trust advantage

48%

But less than half say the same for announcements and information from national governments

Businesses need to capitalize on this opportunity to win back consumer trust, build lasting relationships and gain a digital advantage.

The public’s faith in data has been shaken by a range of issues, including disinformation, data breaches and ethical failings. Despite those issues, the survey finds that businesses enjoy a relative trust advantage.

Three priorities for building consumer trust and driving long-term engagement

1. Proving the value of data

High-profile data breaches have made the public increasingly wary of how organizations monetize their personal data. The research found that “protecting consumer data” is critical to building trust and meeting consumer needs. Close to all of alumni – 97% – said that this was important if a company wants to successfully meet the future needs, values and behaviors of consumers.

Proving the value of data will help to overcome this trust gap and drive long-term consumer engagement. To this end, companies need to show that their data collected via online channels will be put to good use to personalize their experience with a brand. To give up their privacy, customers must be able to see value for themselves. Businesses will need to empower their customers to realize the true value of their data.

Once this shift in sentiment takes place, consumers will begin to use data to their own advantage. This will in turn create new opportunities for companies looking to capitalize on rising consumer demand.

Companies that understand the future of data now, can position themselves to win.

  • Royal Caribbean: Data can keep you afloat

    A digital transformation strategy has opened up new channels for growth for cruise line operator Royal Caribbean (RC). The company faced the challenge of finding new ways to drive growth in the digital age.

    Central to this strategy was improving the guest experience of a millennial generation increasingly expecting digital onboard experiences. Their strategy used data to personalize customer experiences – for example developing an app to help customers develop and manage their time on board. The technology allowed RC to capture data on its guests behaviors and experiences, thereby gaining a better understanding of their customer.

2. Harnessing the power of AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) offers unparalleled opportunities to improve the consumer experience and develop a lasting, trusting relationship. Conversational commerce is transforming the way that businesses interact with their consumers. At the end of 2015, the three largest messaging platforms in the world – WeChat, WhatsApp and Viber – had a combined user base of more than 3 billion.

As chat apps take over devices, this will become an essential element of ecommerce and customer experience strategy. Conversational commerce holds the key to improved brand experience through personalization and efficiency, and has the power to transform the consumer-business relationship for the better.

Yet the power of AI can either unite or divide companies with their customers. While it can offer savvy brands a way to form deep and profitable relationships with consumers, it also passes power to the consumer to screen out brands that don’t reflect their needs and values. Businesses need to get ahead of the game and utilize AI to their advantage.

  • View from the consumer product sector

    As digital disruption sweeps the retail industry, solutions are increasingly connecting start-up companies direct to the end user. This is forcing retail to re-define its purpose in order to survive.

    Yet this could be the start of a more radical shift whereby digital assets - rather than physical products - become the norm. This would give the consumer the power to use home-made manufacturing technologies and digital source code to make the end-product themselves.

    Organizations need to prepare to provide solutions, not products if they are to stay relevant.

3. Instilling a strong sense of purpose

Businesses are realizing they cannot gain consumer trust while being driven by purely financial motivations. To win back trust, businesses need to prove they have a ‘Purpose’ which has a positive impact on the wider world. A Purpose-led business will enjoy better relationships with consumers, while capitalizing on opportunities for growth.

The research shows that there is clear consensus among alumni about what constitutes having Purpose. Close to two-thirds (63%) see it as “creating value for a broad set of stakeholders, including society and the environment.” Companies who are able to clearly define and communicate their sense of Purpose will take the lead in the race to win consumer trust.  

What purpose means to EY alumni

63%

The majority say it is about creating value for a broad set of stakeholders, including society and the environment

What purpose means to EY alumni

7%

Only a small minority saw it as being about maximizing shareholder value

Closing the trust gap

When seeking a digital advantage in a fast-paced age of disruption, consumer trust is key. While protecting data is a top priority for consumers, businesses next to go one step further prove its value. Once consumers become more aware of the value of their data, they will be more open to sharing this with businesses. Advanced technologies such as AI can help build trusted relationships with consumers, while a strong sense of purpose will help to build engagement and trust.

Learn how EY teams can help and join the conversation:

Follow us on LinkedIn.

Summary

While enjoying a relative trust advantage, businesses cannot afford to take their foot off the pedal. Instead, they need to learn to capitalize on this momentum to gain a digital advantage. Businesses who fail to do so risk getting left behind.

About this article

By

EY Americas

Multidisciplinary professional services organization

Related topics Alumni Digital Trust Customer