Trust is an essential element in relationships. As humans, we need to feel we can trust others who we invite into our lives, but also the organizations we do business with. As Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, Ph.D. argue in their book Extreme Trust: Honesty as a Competitive Advantage, trust is not just a good idea, it's inevitable.While companies have learned that the price of lost trust is lost business, some have still not mastered the art of acquiring and then retaining customers' and prospects' trust. Instead, they continue putting more importance on meeting their business and financial goals without reflecting on the impact their actions are having on their customers.
Further, even the most trusting customers have had their trust put to the test. In today's data-driven world, customers have been faced with several instances where their personal information is put at risk because a business which was in possession of that data had its systems compromised. Even the most loyal customers will question whether to continue doing business with a brand which loses their information, especially when this pertains to their banking details, potentially leading to financial problems and at the very least causing a headache that comes with changing bank cards.
According to ClickFox's recently released 2014 Consumer Behavior and Data Survey, 60 percent of customers don't trust either online or offline retailers with their data. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a third of customers said that previous data breaches would stop them from sharing data with a brick-and-mortar organization.
Target came under a lot of scrutiny last year when, as the company explains, "criminals forced their way into our system, gaining access to guest credit and debit card information." While the organization has tried to resolve the issue, the ClickFox research still listed Target as the least trusted company, perhaps because news of the data breach is still fresh in customers' minds.
The bottom line is that trust is hard to earn but easy to lose. And once it's lost, it's difficult for organizations to gain it back and convince customers they are a good brand to do business with. While data breaches might be impossible to completely avoid, organizations need a robust and constantly updated strategy they can implement as soon as they identify or even suspect such an incident. This should include being open with customers and keeping them informed about the situation instead of trying to keep information about what happened. Secondly, brands need to be ready to present customers with the necessary tools to protect themselves against the malicious use of their lost information.