With the accelerated growth of the e-commerce and tech industries, we are more dependent on the digital world than ever before. Much of our private information is stored online, from financial details to medical records, and studies show that most Americans believe their information is less secure now than ever before. Companies rely on these data sets to reach their customers and conduct sales, but consumers have become concerned about their privacy.

Data protection has become such a vital part of business success that it’s even changing people’s purchasing power. 63% of North Americans would rather purchase from organizations that protect their privacy, according to a study by ATB Ventures. They are more willing to spend their purchasing power on brands that act responsibly with consumer data.

ATB Ventures, the innovation arm of ATB Financial, released a new report on the status of trust in the tech world, with insights gathered from more than 1,000 professionals in North America. With these insights, they created The Trust Stack, a framework for brands to understand how to use data and maintain consumer trust.

These findings are essential for entrepreneurs and business leaders alike because they shed light on a challenging question relevant to any industry: how can we use data effectively without undermining the consumer’s trust?

This question will define the future of business and the future of the customer experience. Customers care about interacting with companies that have high ethical standards and practices, and this preference shows up in their expectations for data privacy. Here’s what entrepreneurs can learn from ATB Ventures’ findings.

Data Privacy Is Tied to Customer Experience

Data privacy has become so important that it is now directly tied to customer experience. In addition to providing your customers with the best products, services, and experiences, you must also provide them with a sense of security as it pertains to their personal information.

According to the study, 70% of respondents want to see greater liability on organizations that use their data. In short, they want to know that data protection is a priority.

When choosing your tech stack, make sure that data privacy is at the top. In your business strategy, consider how you will store and protect your customers’ data. When reaching out to customers to collect data, choose methods that only require necessary information and not excessive data. The customer will be more likely to participate with you and offer data if you ask for it in a transparent manner. Be clear with customers about your data policies, where information is stored, and whether or not you will share it with others.

All of these factors work together to cultivate trust between the organization and the consumer, an outcome that serves both groups. Customers don’t have to give up the ease and convenience of personalization online, and organizations can reach their ideal clients more easily.

Put the Power in the Hands of Customers

Consumers’ primary concern around data privacy is whether or not they have a choice in how their data is treated. At this point, many consumers have experienced background data collection, finding that their information has been dispersed to the highest bidder. According to the study, 35% of respondents believe data breaches are an inevitable reality.

Big Data has left consumers powerless to observation by outside sources, decreasing their trust in any form of data sharing. But at the same time, 50% of respondents said they don’t have time to navigate the world of data privacy.

This is where companies and organizations need to empower their customers—first, through education. It’s vital that customers understand how their data is used, where it is stored, and where it is going. You can educate your customers on your unique data practices with a simple explainer at the bottom of your website.

The second part of empowering customers requires putting the decision-making power back in their hands. ATB Ventures believes that trust will be the defining factor for organizations of the future, and this includes moving to a customer-centric approach to data. Now, privacy is determined by a given organization’s preference. In the future, ATB Ventures predicts that it will be driven by the consumer’s preference.

Data privacy is a growing concern among organizations and consumers alike. Companies need data to provide the best experiences, but they need consumer trust to sustain the business. Success will depend on a company’s ability to cultivate consumer trust, keep data secure, and provide a rounded experience for the consumer.

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