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Now that businesses are adjusting to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), they have been flooding customers' inboxes and browser windows with messages about how this will improve their data security and enable a better and safer user experience. The businesses that best deliver this message, and back it up with palpable improvements, will seize a major advantage in the form of "trust leadership."

Consumers demand trustworthy businesses

The business world has arrived at a situation where change has become necessary. Poor handling of personal data within and among organizations has led to multiple scandals involving financial loss, fraud, and even possible political manipulation. This, on top of growing annoyance at more mundane privacy issues, means legislation has been drafted to handle all the cases where trust is no longer merited. Industries tried to get closer to their customers, claiming to understand them, but burned those customers by misusing their personal information.

There is a way forward from this moment where trustworthiness must be enforced: businesses must go above and beyond the basic requirements of regulatory compliance to earn back the lost trust. The ones that welcome customer enquiries about how their personal data is being secured against misuse, both within and outside the organization, and that make a point of involving those customers, exhibit something that we call "trust leadership."

Transparency regarding data usage, visible security features in digital assets, and regular updates and reminders about stored information, and the permissions that control it, are all elements of trust leadership. Until the world has become used to the changes in how customer data is managed, it will not be enough to take the no-news-is-good-news approach. Consumers want to be reassured, and they want to know (or at least believe) that businesses are making changes to their security and privacy policies for consumers' benefit. By treating trust as a precious commodity, trust leaders will serve their own interests by putting their customers' needs first.


Further reading

"Under GDPR, the enterprise needs to compete on consumer trust," IT0014-003277 (June 2017)

"SAP Hybris puts the customers in control of their data – essential for trust and compliance," INT001-000031 (February 2018)


Marshall Lager, Senior Analyst, Customer Engagement

[email protected]