10 Ways to Build Digital Trust for Your Business

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10 Ways to Build Digital Trust for Your Business

Digital trust has become pivotal for business growth and successful digital transformation, with recent studies unveiling trust as a key factor in purchase decisions following the rise of disruptive technologies and reliance on digital platforms.

Explore the 10 actionable tips below to uncover how you can build digital trust for your brand and grow your business through a trusted reputation.

As consumers and businesses increasingly rely on digital platforms and technologies for data sharing, transactions and communication –and with more than six million data records exposed worldwide through data breaches in the first quarter of 2023 alone (Statista)– it is crucial that businesses establish digital trust for their brands. The need for digital trust becomes even clearer as 87% of respondents in this McKinsey report state that 1) whether a business has an ethical and trusted reputation for protecting customers’ data, and 2) the amount of personal data that is collected, are important purchase decision factors when buying a product or service.

What is digital trust and why is it important for your business

Digital trust is defined as individuals' expectation that digital technologies and services, as well as the business providing them, will protect all stakeholders' interests and uphold societal expectations and values.

However, digital trust can be interpreted and applied differently depending on the stakeholder:

  • To customers, digital trust means making confident purchases from businesses online through reliable and available platforms that keep their data secure and privacy intact

  • To shareholders, digital trust means confidence in a business’s ability to increase profits through agility and the use of innovative technologies that boost growth 

  • To service providers, digital trust means that system integrations are protected against cybersecurity risks by meeting security and maturity requirements

By implementing strategies for digital trust, your business will foster a sense of integrity, transparency and reliability. This will in turn contribute to building confidence among your customers, employees, partners, and other stakeholders that your information is handled responsibly, ethically, and securely.

Not prioritising digital trust can have great implications on your business’ revenue, with 46% of respondents in this McKinsey report stating that they ‘often or always’ consider competitor brands if it is unclear how your business will handle their data– increasing to 58% for respondents Asia-Pacific and 56% for B2B purchases.

study by Adobe also revealed that a staggering 71% of consumers will stop purchasing from companies that have broken their trustHowever, your business can quickly address this to prevent revenue loss from future customers due to lost trust:

Top three ways to gain your customers' trust are: 1) 'Asking permission to use their data' (45%) 2) More 'open and transparent' use of their data (40%), and 3) Having 'more control over their data (39%) Source: Adobe's 2021 Future of Marketing research

Regardless of your stakeholders, industry, product or service, the following steps can be implemented into any business strategy to build digital trust for your business that leads to business growth and customer retention.

The first step to building digital trust is to get a good understanding of your customers and other stakeholders’ needs and expectations– both for your product or service and for your platforms. 

Start with speaking with your customers and stakeholders through customer service questionnaires, surveys and client discussions. You can also make use of social media listening and reading reviews to learn more about their expectations of your company, products and services, and where you fall short in achieving their trust.

What matters the most to your customers and has the biggest impact on your company’s digital trust will vary depending on your industry, stakeholders, and the nature of your product or service. If you sell clothing online, your customers probably care the most about your platforms being accessible and reliable, clear return policies that are easy to find and secure transactions. For a business selling software to business clients, however, secure system integrations and data security are of higher importance to achieve digital trust.

Find out what is important to your stakeholders, and start with that!

2. Prioritise Starting Small over Perfectionism

Taking small steps to build digital trust for your business is far better than inaction while trying to come up with a perfect plan. Building trust is a work in progress and will require consistent efforts, with new actions needed as technology advances and requirements to build and maintain digital trust change.

Start somewhere small with actions you can make already this week, such as implementing cookies, and updating your plugins and software. Find bigger projects to build trust based on what is the most important to your stakeholders, and grow your initiatives as you go to ensure and reassure customers that your data and platforms are secure, reliable and accessible. One way to show stakeholders that you are taking action to protect their data, is through ISO International Standard certifications, such as ISO 27001, to showcase your commitment to digital security and data protection.

If you feel a bit lost about what to do first, a data privacy policy that is easy to understand and accessible on your website, alongside cybersecurity measures is an excellent place to start, as these will be expected from customers and other stakeholders regardless of your business model and industry. Learn more about how to do so below!

3. Implement Frameworks and Policies for Cybersecurity

Secure customer data handling and promoting transparency are crucial for digital trust. This can be achieved through e.g. adopting cybersecurity and privacy frameworks, developing information security policies and highlighting data protection measures in a public privacy policy.

In fact, this McKinsey report from 2022 shows that 85% of consumers say that knowing a company’s data privacy policy is important before making a purchase, so ensuring that you clearly explain how customer data will be utilised in your business’ policies is a great place to start. This study by Sprout Social even revealed that as much as 73% of consumers are willing to pay more for products that promise total transparency, so this is a good area to prioritise to grow your business.

You can find all of Accredify’s policies here.

4. Clear Communication and Responsiveness to All Stakeholders

Trust is hard to achieve with uncertainty. To avoid uncertainty and confusion related to your business and offerings, clear and unified communication is vital when engaging stakeholders. This involves using understandable language, regularly updating platforms for accuracy, ensuring accessibility for visually impaired individuals, and providing accurately translated versions of your digital platforms for the most commonly used languages by your target audience.

Transparency and effective management of customer and stakeholder expectations are other key aspects of clear communication to build digital trust. It is essential to provide a strong understanding on your website of what your customers and other stakeholders can expect from your business in regards to e.g. providing clear overviews of your products and services, pricing (unless your business uses project quotes), delivery times if relevant, terms and conditions, and details on how to reach customer support.

Maintaining a checklist to verify updates, upgrades, bug fixes, and other changes helps ensure consistent and accurate messaging as your business’ products and services change.

Keep these assets updated to always reflect the latest information related to your products, services and other information that is relevant to your stakeholders:

  • User manuals
  • FAQs
  • How-to guides related to your products and services
  • Demo content
  • Pricing lists
  • Updated email addresses to contact the relevant people in your team
  • Product features, listed in any asset that is accessible by internal and external
  • Boilerplate shared with external parties
  • The ‘About Us’ page on your digital platforms
  • Answers from chatbots on your digital platforms
  • Policies and terms
5. Ensure Compliance with Regulations, Security Certifications and Best Practices

To establish digital trust, it is crucial for your business to be perceived as professional and trustworthy by customers and other stakeholders. This involves adhering to compliance requirements, such as data handling, privacy and security measures, and industry best practices through a quick Google search and checking resources by your local government.

To determine the specific requirements, certifications, and best practices applicable to your business, begin by examining the regulations, laws, and guidelines established by the governments in the regions where your business operates. Additionally, you can explore available resources and analyse the practices followed by your competitors to gain insights and ensure alignment with industry standards.

See Accredify’s security certifications and learn more about how we apply security measures to our business, platforms and solutions here.

6. Adopt Strategies for Data Governance

Data governance encompasses the development of internal standards and policies governing the collection, storage, processing, and disposal of data, ensuring its security, privacy, accuracy, availability, and usability. As such, establishing robust data governance practices is a critical component in fostering digital trust.

By prioritising data governance as part of your digital trust strategy, you not only enhance trust with stakeholders but also streamline operations for all professionals involved. Clear, accurate, and timely data is essential for professionals in making informed decisions and gaining insights into customer preferences. Incorporating data governance practices facilitates a comprehensive understanding of customer needs, enhances foresight capabilities, and enables strategic business decision-making.

Data governance offers a wide range of applications within a business, including data stewardship, data management, and data quality. To delve deeper into optimising data quality, you can learn more under tip number 10 provided later in this post.

7. Train Your Staff to Spot and Respond to Threats   

As scammers are becoming more sophisticated, it is essential to have proper security measures and action plans in place. By training your staff to spot and respond to threats efficiently, your business is better protected against data leaks and malicious malware. In fact, Verizon’s annual data breach report revealed that 74% of data breaches were fully or partially due to human error.

To limit the risk of data breaches, establish strong internal security measures by investing in technology such as firewalls, antivirus software, and intrusion detection systems for all company devices. Ensure that all software is updated immediately once new versions and bug fixes are released, and fix any vulnerabilities in your own software and systems as they occur.

Forming an incident response team within your company to deal with security incidents on digital platforms will allow for quick response times to digital threats, with clear communication and frequent training of all employees on how to spot and report potential threats on their devices. Internal communication departments play a vital role in reminding employees about best practices regarding data security and what they should look out for to spot potential data threats to your business.

8. Reliable and Available Customer-Facing Platforms 

When you are building out your digital platforms, such as a website or mobile app, ensuring that they are reliable and available at all times is a great part of the user experience. This will also help build digital trust for your business by creating:

1. Consistency and Dependability: When your platform works seamlessly without unexpected issues, it instils confidence in your brand, as customers can count on your platform to be available and perform its intended functions– enhances their trust in your brand.

2. Enhanced User Experience: Providing a smooth and user-friendly platform is key to delivering a positive experience to your customers. When your platform is accessible and functions reliably, it creates a seamless journey for users. They can navigate through your platform effortlessly, complete tasks efficiently, and enjoy a hassle-free experience. By prioritising a reliable user experience, you foster trust and loyalty among your customer base.

To help you create platforms that are accessible to all, Hubspot has also put together these guidelines on how you can make your business’ website accessible and inclusive to all with an extensive, downloadable checklist.

3. Data Security and Privacy: Safeguarding customer data is paramount in the digital age, and a reliable platform demonstrates your commitment to data security and privacy. It ensures that customer information is protected from unauthorised access or potential breaches. When customers trust that their personal data is in safe hands, they are more inclined to engage with your platform and share their information, strengthening their trust in your business.

9. Decentralised Platforms for Data Accessibility      

Many businesses store their data in centralised systems, making them more prone to data loss and leaks if one of those systems fails. With decentralised data storage, you can improve security, data accessibility, reliability, and data privacy through blockchain technology. 

Decentralised data storage on blockchain ledgers builds digital trust for your business through increased transparency, as the data is stored chronologically in a permanent and transparent order of events, that can be seen by any party with access. As data changes and updates are reflected on the blockchain for everyone who has access to it, it ensures that all parties have access to the most current and revised data to foster a shared and synchronised view of information. This will help prevent employees in your business from using outdated data– ensuring data accuracy, reliability and consistency across all teams and departments, which are all factors in building digital trust.

Storing your business’ data on a blockchain ledger also protects data from leaks due to the added security that comes as a result of the technology’s structure and use of cryptographic hashes. You can learn about how blockchains work in this article and discover how its characteristics contribute to the creation of verifiable documents here.

On top of this, decentralised data can be accessed anywhere, at any time, enabling increased data accessibility and convenience. Accredify’s Verifiable Documents – also known as Accredified Documents – improve document security and build digital trust through tamper-proof data that is easily accessible, shareable and verifiable with anyone while keeping personal data protected. You can learn more about Accredified Documents and how they benefit your business with enhanced information security, secure sharing and data insights here.

10. Prioritise Data Quality and Insights to Optimise Solutions

Data is arguably the most valuable and important asset of any business. By collecting quality data you can use the insights to improve your product or services and address takeaways from the data to further build digital trust based on your customers’ needs and concerns.

To achieve high data quality, your business’ data must be accurate, complete, reliable, relevant and timely. Making data quality (DQ) a priority also functions as a great cost-saving initiative, as numbers by Gartner show that poor DQ is costing businesses an average of $12.9 million USD a year.

Here are six steps you can take to ensure high data quality:

1) Select business performance metrics linked to your business goals that you will be measuring your data quality for
2) Get an overview of the current level of data quality for your metrics and understand how it is implicating your business
3) Define what you will consider as a sufficient level of DQ and establish a standard for DQ that applies to your entire business
4) Create a target state for your DQ that you will be working towards and create a roadmap to get there
5) Implement DQ dashboards to monitor critical data assets to identify trends, patterns based on performance over time
6) Use a trust-based semantic model that considers the data’s origin, jurisdiction and governance to determine its quality

Source: Gartner

Regardless of what you sell and who your audience is, implementing steps to build digital trust is important both to protect your systems and data and to grow your business through a strong reputation.

Reach out to our team today to learn more about how decentralised, verifiable data can benefit your business and build digital trust for your brand.