Research reveals that a distinct gap exists between U.S. businesses and consumers regarding issues of privacy, trust, and how personal data is handled.
Just over half of surveyed consumers discontinued doing business with a company because they were uncomfortable with their privacy protection, a report from Accenture found. The November 2003 survey of 570 individuals that mixed business marketing executives, privacy officers and customer relationship management executives with consumer respondents revealed that each group often has a different perception of privacy policies and trust issues.
The disparity is evident as 80 percent of the business respondents awarded their companies a 4 or 5 rating on a scale of 1 to 5 (where 5 is the highest) in terms of their ability to generate trust with customers, while 81 percent of the customer respondents chose a 3 or 4 rating.
The survey found that privacy policies actually have little impact on whether consumers trust companies, and most were influenced by company or product reputation. Businesses believed that good customer service was the most influential factor.
|Factors most influencing consumer trust with a company|
|Business Respondents||Consumer Respondents|
|Positive customer service experience||43%||26%|
|Length of relationship with company||27%||29%|
|Company or product reputation||23%||33%|
Accenture's Chief Scientist, Glover Ferguson, commented on the survey findings: "The study revealed no single reason that would compel consumers to immediately cancel their business with a company. However, the study did reveal two characteristics – brand impression and length of relationship – that fortify trust. Indeed, nearly two thirds of the respondents said that trust most frequently stems from those characteristics. Accordingly, it would seem that trust is not something that comes easily or quickly. It needs to be earned over time."
Corporations often have unrealistic views of what damages trust. When survey participants were asked about the biggest impediments to establishing corporate trust, the majority of the business respondents thought consumers were wary of security, when, in fact, most of the consumers blamed aggressive marketing tactics.
|What Damages Trust?|
|Online security fears||74%||49%|
|Overly aggressive marketing, |
|Company reputation has been |
damaged by a past incident
|Generally suspicious of corporations||52%||28%|
|An incident at a similar company |
has damaged industry's reputation
|Disapprove of the company's |
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