How to Win Customer Confidence in the Age of Data Breaches

May 14, 2024
Businesses should provide transparency about using customer data and gaining consent when collecting it

Every online interaction leaves a trace—a breadcrumb in the vast expanse of data that defines our digital footprint. As this footprint expands, inevitably, so does the conversation around data privacy.

According to the World Economic Forum, by 2025 individuals and companies worldwide will produce an estimated 463 exabytes of data each day, compared with less than three exabytes a decade ago. In tandem with these amounts of data collected, there has been a sharp increase in data breaches. Just look at AT&T, 23andMe and American Express – they are but a few of the numerous attacks from the past year. Global regulations seek to contain these breaches. But as technology evolves rapidly, the subsequent data collected at every touchpoint creates opportunity and concern.

The reality is there remains a gap between regulatory compliance and consumer confidence, and the ripple effect of breaches is shaking consumer trust. Case in point: an alarming 97% of global consumers believe stricter penalties should exist for companies that violate data privacy regulations. Only 36% of consumers believe that the data privacy regulations in their country adequately protect their personal data.

What’s the Cause of These Upticks in Privacy Concerns?

Increasing AI usage breeds distrust among consumers. As global businesses race to keep up with user expectations on personalization and privacy, more customers are becoming uneasy.

The reality is there remains a gap between regulatory compliance and consumer confidence, and the ripple effect of breaches is shaking consumer trust.

Automated decisions by AIs also have potentially huge consequences for individuals. It’s important that businesses can explain how these decisions were made, where the information came from, and provide avenues for individuals to request a review where potentially incorrect data has been used. This is already provisioned under Europe’s GDPR, and US businesses can expect similar customer expectations in the future.

Yet, a whopping 93% are concerned about the security of their personal information online, indicating a widespread lack of confidence among users regarding protecting their personal information. Addressing this concern becomes paramount to maintaining user trust and confidence and complying with data protection regulations.

Sharing information about data protection measures and privacy policies and emphasizing the steps taken to secure user data can help build trust and alleviate concerns. But how can businesses do this successfully with staggering data breaches globally? Let’s dive in.

Define Ownership

Globally there are rampant concerns that companies often prioritize profits over data protection (92% of consumers believe this). Yet, while there is a firm agreement amongst consumers that data privacy practices and regulations need to be strengthened across the board, consumers are divided on who should actually be responsible for doing so.

  • European consumers were 83% more likely than those based in the U.S. to believe data privacy should rest in consumers' hands.
  • Respondents in the U.S. were 55% more likely than European consumers to believe companies should be responsible for protecting data privacy.
  • UK-based consumers were 45% more likely than their US counterparts to believe global regulatory bodies should hold the keys to data privacy protection.

With these conflicting views, it’s evident that businesses must step up safeguarding customers’ private information if they are to regain trust. Businesses must recognize that safeguarding customer data isn't just a legal obligation but a fundamental aspect of ethical conduct and sustainable business practice. Investing in a consent and preference management platform (CMP) is pivotal in helping businesses meet regulations by providing a centralized home for customer records.

Prioritize Transparency

There is a widespread consumer perception of unethical data practices within the corporate realm. In fact, many believe that most companies sell customer data without consent – highlighting a gap between consumer expectations of data privacy and their perceptions of corporate behavior.

To fight this stigma and regain public trust, businesses must provide clear and concise information about how they process customer data and invest in data management tools. Businesses prioritizing this level of transparency enhance their resilience against data breaches and cultivate stronger relationships with customers, regulators, and investors – laying a foundation for sustainable growth in an increasingly digitized world.

Empower Customers

Over half of U.S. consumers are unsure how to improve their data privacy, which indicates a significant knowledge gap in understanding privacy-enhancing measures. This represents a challenge for data privacy professionals to educate users about practical steps they can take to safeguard their personal data effectively.

Many users believe that using “incognito” mode or rejecting cookies is among the best ways to protect their data. While this is certainly a partial understanding of privacy measures, these methods alone may not comprehensively protect personal information.

Clear communication and education about more robust privacy practices beyond browser settings are needed. To respect their privacy, offering customers more control over their data through privacy preferences and consent management platforms is critical. By prioritizing consumer empowerment, businesses build stronger relationships with their customer base and mitigate the risk of data misuse, fostering a more ethical and sustainable digital ecosystem.

Informing consumers about their data rights is crucial for businesses to build trust and protect personal data in the digital age. Many consumers remain unaware of their rights, erasing trust between businesses and the public.

To foster better relationships with consumers, businesses should provide transparency about using customer data and gaining consent when collecting it. This can be achieved through comprehensive information on their website or mobile app about the data that they collect and how it is used. It is essential for businesses to inform US consumers about their data rights, including the rights provided by data privacy laws such as CCPA and CPRA.

By doing so, businesses can build trust and create a culture of transparency and accountability that benefits both consumers and businesses alike.

Nicky Watson is the co-founder and chief architect at Cassie. After a career spent across the disciplines of software design, data mining and digital marketing, and having pioneered the use of several marketing technologies for multiple enterprise clients, Watson built and brought to market Cassie. She retains direction of all development work for the product, offering expert guidance that ensures Cassie remains ahead of technological, business and legislative challenges our clients may face with navigating data privacy and consumer preferences.