Business leaders today are challenged by an accelerating and uncertain market. Navigating these complex socio-economic-political pressures has never been harder for business executives to achieve their business goals. Making decisions has arguably never been this challenging. Yet, despite the complexities of today’s market, one thing remains a constant in the chaos: strengthening the relationship businesses hold with their customers.
Creating long-term business value, in ways that provide the agility and resilience for today’s market, demands creating holistic, trustworthy and personalized relationships with individuals. And to deliver on that need, leaders must have a digital-first mindset. As the covid pandemic demonstrated, delivering trustworthy, context-based digital experiences is critical for successfully navigating uncertain times. A recent study by McKinsey notes that organizations focused on building digital trust are likely to see annual top and bottom line revenue growth exceed those that don’t by at least 10 percent.1
However, as multiple surveys also point out, the trust customers hold with digital technologies and their providers is broken. There is an urgent need for businesses to connect, relate, understand and partner with their customers in new ways that strengthen digital trust. Rebuilding customer trust in a more open and participatory manner is one of the biggest opportunities business leaders have to successfully navigate today’s complex market.
“Without facts, you can’t have truth. Without truth, you can’t have trust. Without trust, we have no shared reality…”
— Maria Ressa, Nobel Peace Prize 20212
While it’s easy to conceptually understand the notion of trust, it can be quite challenging to actually put into practice. As the World Economic Forum Digital Trust community notes, one way to operationalize digital trust is to break it into its component parts to be more focused and manageable for decision making.3
Through this lens, it becomes clearer how businesses can invest their resources in strengthening the specific dimensions of trust to have a more sustainable relationship with their customers.
Three of these dimensions are central for strengthening the trust with individuals:
Transparency: Individuals need a stronger and more effective understanding of how data made by and about them is used and who benefits from the value created.
Accountability: Businesses need to have well-defined rules, standards, processes and practices and clearly assigned responsibilities for specific stakeholders.
Equity: Individuals need a greater say in how the value created is apportioned back to them.
“In times of ever-accelerating digital transformation, trust remains the foundation and the only compass we have on our path to the future.”
— Marius von Spreti, Cyber Lead Deloitte Germany5
The drive for delivering ever-increasing personalized, real-time and richer experiences demands an investment in the trust with individuals. As such, business leaders need to prioritize the transparency, accountability and equity of their offerings to strengthen the relationship they hold with individuals to be more open and participatory.
In April of 2023, ChatGPT was taken offline in Italy following an investigation from Garante, the country’s data protection authority. In response, greater transparency about its data practices were provided to the public as well as an option for individuals to opt out of future data collection. After introducing several privacy-related changes, access to ChatGPT was reinstated in Italy and it was made clearer to European citizens on how they can delete their personal data from the chatbot program.6
To earn and hold trust, businesses need to commit to providing customers with meaningful engagement opportunities that enable them to own their interactions and make informed decisions, be it through educational resources, customer-centric product design or feedback loops.
In the end, it’s all about creating trustworthy relationships that are secure and relevant to individuals in all the complex ways digital experiences are perceived and valued. Businesses need to pivot to “participation with purpose” for sustainable growth and value creation. In our next blog, we continue the conversation on activating digital technologies for connected data to drive context-based participation.