Technologies that help employees and consumers better engage, solve issues quickly and protect privacy feed directly into consumer trust.

Biometrics and authentication, for example, ensure that a customer’s identity is confirmed and protected.

Companies that build these technologies into their customer engagement processes demonstrate that they’re committed to protecting customer data and reducing the risk of fraud.

Customer experiences leaders are key to developing active strategies to foster consumer trust, along with omnichannel communications strategies that allow brands to actively listen to customers while providing bi-directionalcommunications channels.

Connecting Silos Ensures Proper Customer Data Handling

Mike Anderson, CTO and co-founder of Tealium, said consumers don’t know (or care) about the silos inside of a company. To them, the website, mobile app, call center and in-store experience should be connected.

"Organizations need to ensure the right data is being collected and handled correctly," said Anderson. "The key to building trust is to truly know your customers and their privacy preferences — and ensure those preferences are upheldthroughout their journey.”

He explained that this is why it’s critical to have a customer data strategy that includes real-time data collection across all data sources — to ensure customer profiles are comprehensive, current and trusted.

Anderson added that several key technologies exist for developing and maintaining consumer trust, including customer data platforms (CDPs), which are becoming more broadly adopted.

"The best CDPs enable an organization’s customer data to function in a completely integrated, and most importantly, privacy-compliant, manner from initial collection, to enrichment and unification, all the way through to activation," hesaid.

Related Article: Customer Data Platforms, The Answer for Customer Identity Management?

Building Trust Requires Maintaining Relationships

Rick Blair, vice president of product strategy, experience management for Verint, explained that two groups of key stakeholders impact consumer trust, starting with those that build and manage the places or things that touch thecustomer.

"Think stores and branches, websites and mobile applications and customer service groups — all places that tend to be associated with physical aspects of a customer’s experience," he said. "Consumer trust is directly correlated tocustomer experience. So, anyone in an organization who is responsible for building and maintaining the relationship with the customer plays a major role in building consumer trust.

He added that business functions like the contact center, back office, technical support and marketing act as the frontline to engaging with customers, resolving their issues and creating a positive customer experience.

Anderson said online activities raise several questions for global governing bodies around consumer data privacy, evidenced by dozens of new laws enacted to address these issues.

"Data privacy remains top of mind for consumers, and organizations are ultimately responsible for being transparent with how the data will be used," he said. "While the current landscape of laws varying by state is a nightmare forcompanies to comply with, a CDP can help manage that and weave those privacy preferences thoughtfully into the customer experience."

In a future state of nationally or globally accepted standards for data privacy, customers will be more likely to return to those companies that clearly communicate what data is being collected and where it is stored.

Avoiding Erosion of Consumer Trust

Blair said that data privacy laws and global initiatives like GDPR, as well as regional laws like California’s CCPA, have been in place for several years.

As a result, consumers are frequently exposed to the direct effects of these laws and have developed a better understanding of the policies and reasoning for these initiatives.

Learning Opportunities

"Today, organizations can provide information on how consumer data is being used, and the processes that enable them to request and/or delete the data held on them," he said. "This transparency can stand in stark contrast to thoseorganizations that do not provide this access and ability to control their consumer data."

He pointed out that this discrepancy in data privacy practices can erode consumer trust, which makes data privacy and transparency initiatives paramount moving forward.

Blair explained that developing consumer trust needs to be at the core of a company’s DNA, adding that they must consider consumer trust at a broader level by involving key internal stakeholders across the organization.

"Forming comprehensive steering committees or working groups that continuously focus on consumer trust can help manage current challenges and help the organization better prepare for future regulatory changes, data privacy laws andconsumer expectations as they arise," he said.

Related Article: Brands Must Adopt Privacy-First Data Strategies to Combat Growing Mistrust

Establishing Trust Throughout the Customer Journey

Going forward, Anderson said he sees two big challenges for companies. One is ensuring the right data is being collected. The second is being creative about value exchange.

"It is important to understand what a consumer needs in return to provide an email address," he explained. "Another key factor to be aware of is timing. Trust is established over time, so it becomes more critical for companies tounderstand customer lifecycles and behaviors."

For example, a patient who has seen the same doctor for years may be willing to fill out a survey about their sleep patterns, but a new patient may not feel comfortable yet.

"The key is being able to use customer data in a safe and trusted way to ensure customer experiences match expectations," Anderson said.

From Blair's perspective, data privacy laws will continue to evolve at a rapid pace on a global basis and continue to grow in complexity.

He said organizations that invested early and have built a solid foundation to support the data privacy laws and initiatives are better equipped to keep up.

"The organizations that are just now starting to comply and invest in the technology needed to support data privacy will be challenged with keeping up with rapidly changing landscape both regionally and across the globe," he said.