Last updated: Losing consumer trust means losing business

Losing consumer trust means losing business


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Once upon a time, people worried most about being embarrassed by their internet search history. Back then, consumers could not begin to imagine the ways in which their seemingly boring data could be used to manipulate them, affect their ability to get approved for a loan, or cause them to be passed over for certain career opportunities.

As it becomes increasingly difficult for consumers to ignore the risks of trusting companies with their personal information, it also becomes easier for them to leave brands who break their trust.

All over the world, people are exhausted with corporations who ask for permission to collect data – and even give consumers the choice to opt out of having their data collected – then ignore those wishes and collect, use, and sell that data anyway.

Consumer trust is the most valuable form of currency today, and organizations that protect the privacy of their customers will be afforded the competitive advantages that come with trust, especially now that the need for data protection and data privacy grows more evident with every data breach.

Despite the abundance of clichés and platitudes about the importance of trust, it really is hard-earned, easy to lose, and even harder, if not impossible, to regain once lost.

When it comes to the trust your customers place in your company to take care of their personal data, one misstep can cost you countless customers, and global attention of the negative sort – just ask Mark Zuckerberg how much he enjoyed testifying before legislators and cameras about the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Keep your promises: GDPR data protection matters to consumers

Organizations spend untold resources creating brand ethos to win consumer trust and business, so securing that confidence on the back-end by protecting the increasingly precious (and highly coveted) data from being stolen, sold, and misused is likely one of the best investments a company can make.

There’s no telling how long and how severe the fallout will be from Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. It is essentially certain, however, that the problem of data collection and protection is not going away as long as consumer data is collected.

Since companies have not taken tough enough measures to protect their customers’ personal information on their own, governments around the globe are stepping in (or soon will be) to force their hand with legislation like GDPR.

Fool me thrice: Customers leave brands who abuse data more than two times

Should you experience the unfortunate plundering of customer data—through human error or neglect—be prepared to triage your brand messaging and customer relations. A recent report states that improper use of data collection is an effective way to lose a customer—many of them, in fact.

Abuse of customer data could cause 80% of consumers to abandon your brand.

Misusing customer data or using it without their knowledge is one thing, and hackers stealing that info is another; but in the end it’s all the same to your customers: their data is in the possession of someone they did not choose to trust with that information.

Similar easy ways to lose customers include unnecessary spamming (cited by 57% of consumers) while 53% of consumers said, “Fool me thrice and I’m out of here,” after brands make the same mistake more than twice.

Protect now or pay later: Customers and the EU are ready for GDPR – are you?

Clearly, denial is no longer a viable option for addressing the danger of a potential data breach. If it can happen to giants like Facebook and Equifax, no business is untouchable.

Get proactive and secure the consumer data that has been entrusted to you before GDPR forces your hand AND your bottom line: There will be steep penalties and fines for organizations that violate the European Union’s data protection laws.

In a world where the promise of security has become an increasingly valuable commodity, consumers are quick to see the value of trusting a company that isn’t waiting until disaster strikes to take seriously the protection of collected data.

The US government will likely not be far behind the European Union in passing legislation aimed at protecting consumer data, especially since so many US businesses will need to comply with the EU standards because they serve European customers. It makes sense to begin the process now and lead the way, rather than wait and hope for the best.

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