Customer Trust in Digital Services: Hard to Earn, Easy to Lose

Trust: difficult to earn, yet so easy to lose. This is particularly true when it comes to customer trust in digital services. Trust breeds loyalty, and loyalty, according to cultural trend expert, Will Higham, is at the very heart of a company’s success. This is why it is so important for your business to be trusted, and why you must take every step to harness credibility and trust, especially in the customer experience technology you choose to deploy.

According to Accenture, US organisations lose over US$750bn per year due to consumers switching companies. The 13th annual Accenture Strategy Global Consumer Pulse Research, which gauged the attitudes and expectations of more than 25,000 consumers around the world, discovered that over 40% of all consumers who switch companies are doing so because of a lack of personalisation and a lack of trust.

Little wonder then that companies are investing huge amounts of money into researching the psychology behind the garnering of trust.

Global bank HSBC, which is also a client and shareholder in Vizolution, recently commissioned a survey across 11 major international markets to understand how people trust in technology to manage their financial affairs and daily lives. A chief takeaway in HSBC’s Trust in Technology study was how “a lack of trust and understanding is holding back the adoption of new technologies”.

Before we begin to examine ‘why’ people may struggle to trust the latest technologies, it’s important to establish a baseline of the general levels of trust that people have in using technology. The study revealed that 76% of respondents felt “comfortable using new technology”, with 80% reporting new technology made their lives easier. When respondents were asked about emerging technology like AI or biometric technologies, however, results were far less positive, and a hesitancy towards full digital adoption remains, as we explored in our last blog post.

Despite artificial intelligence technologies being quite advanced and efficient only 14% of respondents said they would trust a robot to perform a surgical operation, even if it had been programmed by leading surgeons. This human hesitancy to trust technology is replicated in even quite rudimentary technology, like, for example, sky diving equipment. Only 16% of potential sky divers would trust a pre-programmed release mechanism. Over half of respondents said they would trust themselves to pull the rip-cord, while 65% expressed a preference for having an instructor with them.

The study discovered just 8% of respondents would trust a financial services humanoid advisor, even if it had been programmed by experts to offer mortgage advice. Interestingly, this figure is lower than the 9% who said they would use a horoscope to guide investment choices, and even lower than the 10% who said they would be influenced by the flip of a coin. Speaking to an actual human mortgage broker, however, is much more likely to be regarded as a trusted and worthwhile exchange, with 41% reporting they would trust the interaction. It is also worth noting that the percentage of customers who would trust a robot to perform surgery is almost twice that of those who would trust a robot to advise on financial services (14% vs 8%)!

Findings from the HSBC study revealed that the relationship people have with their banks is a particularly fragile one. In fact, the study found that life’s three most common worries were:

  1. Personal data being leaked
  2. Bank account hacking
  3. Debit or credit card cloning

As such, generating trust for financial services technology is a customer journey that is likely to include quite a few uphill struggles, and last quite a while.

So, why is there such a lack of customer trust in digital services, particularly within financial services?

According to Mr Higham, a reason could be the different ways that trust in humans and technology is actually gained. While trust for humans is often expressed in emotional terms, trust in technology is often ratified by functionality. If it works well; if it is seamless; if it is efficient, then, over time, the consumer will begin to trust technology. And, obviously, with such cold, calculated criterion for generating trust, once that service, or product stops working, then that trust will be broken. If you get let down by their technology, you’re unlikely to give that company another chance, especially if they operate within quite crowded and competitive environments. Your CX tech, your CX solution, therefore, needs to be simple and seamless and work without breaks the first time, every time, because you may not get another chance to rebuild that trust.

Your relationship with your customer is paramount, and trust is at the very heart of that relationship. The role of the Customer Contact Agent, acting as the bridge between the customer and the remote channel of their choice, is therefore pivotal in the relationship between the customer and the business. Neglect your call centre operations at your peril…

When your enterprise is undergoing its digital transformation, then, it’s essential to retain that human element to your customer experience. Not only to devise a solution that is convenient for the customer and efficient for the business, but also one that is trusted.


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