Tech consumers no longer have the same confidence in the applications and devices as they once did. A Forrester predictions report states that levels of trust in consumer technology companies will decline by at least 15% by the end of 2023.
By better understanding this decline in consumer trust and learning what methods help rebuild relationships, organizations can secure more market share, attract new clients, and establish long-term relationships.
Reasons trust in consumer technology has declined
While technology, in general, is still trusted by most people worldwide, that trust has dropped significantly in recent years.
Recent large-scale data breaches at major organizations are a big source of consumer mistrust. Companies like Facebook, Equifax, and Yahoo have all fallen victim to data security breaches, affecting billions of users globally. In general, users stay loyal to brands not due to trust but to a lack of alternative options.
Further escalating the issue is the bad publicity social media has received. The spread of misinformation, propagation of hate speech, and lack of regulation have led to growing dissatisfaction among users. Even consumer tech brands that aren't involved with social media still bear the consequences of this criticism.
The rise of AI has also contributed to a decline in trust. As AI technology becomes integrated into consumer's lives, concerns about its ethical use have grown. When Forbes conducted an Advisor Survey, it found that 76% of consumers were concerned about misinformation from AI.
Why a decline in trust is risky for consumer tech companies
Customers who don't trust tech companies are more likely to seek out competitors, or even forego certain services. This is especially true if the organization has experienced a breach or handled customer data improperly. The resulting decline in market share can cause substantial financial loss and take a long time to recover. By the time you start to bounce back, another company may have come along to take your place.
When a breach causes a lack of trust, it can negatively affect your organization's reputation. News of data breaches or unethical practices can quickly spread across press and social media platforms. A tarnished image can take years to rectify or may even be permanent.
Lower customer trust also means people will be less inclined to share their personal data with your company, affecting your service quality. It's difficult to customize experiences or better serve customers' needs without access to feedback. This can lead to a negative loop—declining customer trust means less communication between customers and organizations, resulting in less useful services—further decreasing customer trust.
How to increase trust in consumer technology
Consumers don't expect perfection from your organization, but they do expect a certain amount of honesty about what you're struggling with and how you're working to improve it. Listening to and learning from your customers helps you consider how to take action.
Open customer feedback channels
Feedback from your customers will inform how your company should rebuild trust and what approaches will be most effective. You should actively seek your customer's opinions, concerns, and suggestions about your products or services.
To receive their feedback, your organization can leverage solutions where customers can freely express their opinions without repercussions. Online surveys, online reviews, social media channels, email, live events, and human insight platforms are all effective ways for organizations to collect quantitive and qualitative customer feedback. With a robust solution for collecting customer feedback, your team can make confident decisions that address your audience's pain points.
Feedback isn't just informative for your organization. It also helps your customers feel seen and heard. You're showing your customers that you value their input and are willing to listen. These gestures can go a long way in rebuilding trust, as they demonstrate a willingness to improve based on their feedback. It's a sign you're not just interested in selling a product, but also in ensuring the product meets their needs and expectations.
Build customer empathy
Empathy begins with understanding your customers—not just their feelings about your organization, but their needs, wants, and expectations. By finding out where the customer is coming from and what they might be experiencing, you can fill gaps in the market that competitors aren't aware of.
The more products and services are aligned with customer needs, the more they can develop a relationship with the brand. Customers remain loyal and dedicated to brands they feel a personal connection with and are more likely to continue using those products and services long-term. This loyalty also makes organizations more resilient to market shifts and unexpected issues. If customers trust you to stay tapped into their needs and concerns, they're likelier to stick with you, even through big changes.
To build customer empathy, learn what motivates customers to purchase your products and how customers feel about their interactions with your organization. With this knowledge, you can make sure your offerings speak directly to customers in a clear and relatable way.
Prioritize consumer privacy
In an era where data breaches and misuse of personal information are common concerns, safeguarding personal information is not just a legal obligation but also a crucial way to demonstrate respect for your customers.
The first step for any consumer tech company is implementing robust security measures. This could involve a number of steps including but not limited to:
- Using advanced encryption technologies
- Conducting regular security audits
- Implementing strict access controls for sharing information
Following these steps shows customers your company prioritizes their safety, which can build trust in your product or service.
Your company must also follow all relevant data protection laws and regulations imposed at the federal and state levels. Non-compliance will incur hefty fines and penalties from the government and give your brand bad publicity, further deteriorating customer trust.
Consumer tech companies are at a bigger risk for privacy breaches than other industries like banking or healthcare, as there is less regulation and oversight. Staying up to date with the latest regulations and protections for data security can help you mitigate privacy risks and minimize the damage in case of a breach. Remember, a commitment to privacy isn't just good in today's digital landscape. It's a must-have for fostering and maintaining customer trust.
A proactive approach to risk mitigation can demonstrate your commitment to consumer safety and security, fostering trust.
Provide clear and comprehensive user guides and support. Ensure your customers can use your products or services safely and effectively. Offer prompt and helpful customer support to assist them if they encounter any problems. This reduces the risk of misuse and shows your customers that you're there to support them.
Ensure your products or services are reliable and of high quality with the help of:
- Regular testing
- Quality checks
- Standard operating procedures
These reduce the risk of product failures that could harm consumers or disrupt their experience. A reliable product is often synonymous with a trustworthy brand.
Always communicate if your company is facing any potential risks to help customers establish a trusting relationship with your brand. Provide clear instructions to mitigate any risks if incidents occur and have a contingency plan in place. This should include a communication strategy to inform your customers about what happened, what you're doing to resolve the issue, and what they can do to protect themselves.
Foster transparency and communication
Communication is at the core of solving trust issues with consumers. A consumer tech company that embeds transparency into its values and mission gains an advantage over competitors who suffer from bad public perception. Direct communication with consumers establishes accountability and helps consumers feel connected with your brand.
One of the primary ways to foster transparency is by having clear and accessible privacy policies. Make sure your customers understand what data you're collecting, why you're collecting it, how you're using it, and who you're sharing it with. This level of transparency can alleviate any potential concerns and create a foundation of trust.
Be honest and open about the various components your customers will interact with, including processes, policies, and performance metrics. Share any successes or failures to remind customers that you are people, too. Explain your decisions to show customers why you made them in the first place. When customers can get insight into a company's choices, they are more likely to trust its leaders and employees.
Changes will occur in your business as you grow; you should communicate them to your customers. Regularly update them about updates to your services, products, or policies. Whether it's through email newsletters, social media updates, or blog posts on your website, keeping your customers informed shows that you value their trust and want to keep them in the loop.
Respond quickly to problems
Consumer data shows that customers will often go back to a company even after a mistake has been made, but a company's reaction is crucial to maintaining customers’ trust. Respond to any customer complaints or issues quickly, thoroughly, and professionally. This will show your customers that you take their concerns seriously and prove your commitment to your customer's success.
Your team needs to formally discuss the most common customer problems and how to respond quickly and efficiently. Develop a customer service playbook that outlines the steps for addressing people's issues in different scenarios or situations. This will ensure everyone understands how they should handle complaints, allowing you to provide consistent customer care throughout your organization.
Create a responsive customer service team and train them to handle a variety of issues across all customer-facing channels. Monitor email, chat, phone, and even social media. The easier it is for customers to contact your organization, the quicker you can respond with solutions.
Increasing consumer trust in your tech organization
Even though technology is still trusted more than many other industries, that trust has deteriorated over the years. Your organization must embrace these challenges and work to implement customer-centric solutions to earn the trust of consumers worldwide
ROI, margins, valuations, speed to market are top priorities, but those alone can't differentiate a company in rapidly evolving markets. Today’s successful company requires another key driver: empathy.