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Consumer trust plummets to 10-year low

By Retail Technology | Monday December 9 2013

New research finds only 9% of consumers have faith in brands to keep their data secure in the wake of a number of recent privacy and security scandals

New consumer research has found consumer trust in data security has hit a ten-year low, with over one in 10 suffering the effects of a data loss.

The research, carried out by Fujitsu in conjunction with One Poll, revealed only 9% of consumers had any faith in organisations to protect their data, with nearly a third (29%) recording a decline in trust over the last year. 

And consumer trust has fallen in each and every sector, both public and private. Over two thirds (69%) said this decline in trust was solely down to a lack of trust in the organisations that hold their personal information. Social media companies, in particular, felt the wrath of the consumer, with 31% having ‘zero trust’ in the sector. Financial services fared only marginally better, with only just over a third (36%) trusting companies in the sector, a fall of 15% over the decade.

Data loss tolerance levels flatline
David Robinson, chief security officer for Fujitsu UK and Ireland, stated: “The results of our research showed consumer tolerance for data loss is at an all-time low. With consumers battling to understand the impact on their personal information if a company is hacked, there is no room for error anymore. To remain ahead of their competitors – and trusted in the eyes of the consumer – organisations need to ensure they are robust in their security.” 

Yet, despite consumer angst around the data issue, there was also a lack of ownership by the general public towards it. Only 32% of consumers recognised their own involvement in keeping their data secure. Instead, consumers blame individuals, with over a third expecting to see repercussions for the member of staff deemed responsible, and almost one in 10 holding the chief executive personally responsible. A further 20% said they would inform the police of any data loss – seeing it a criminal offence.

Over a quarter of respondents said they believed that telecoms and utility companies use their data solely to extract more money from them. And only 15% of consumers see any value from their data being used, with 63% commenting that they do not want organisations to use their data to improve their experience. This was apparent in the financial services sector, where less than a quarter thought they were being served better thanks to the use of their data. 

In fact, nearly a quarter said their personal information was represented incorrectly on communications. This was an issue faced similarly by retailers. There, over a third received incorrect communication, with 40% saying they still have an impersonal experience – despite their data being collected.

Single, secure source of data 

Robinson explained: “Inaccurate communications refer to misspelt names on letters, or indeed on offer emails. In order to ensure these inaccuracies are eliminated, businesses need to maintain accurate, up-to-date CRM [customer relationship management] systems, and ensure they are tracking the consumer across multiple channels.”

He also told that personalised communications, social media interactions and tailored shopping experiences were all ways for retailers to showcase the benefits of consumer data. 

“The problem here is that perhaps consumers take this for granted – and don’t even realise that it is, in fact, a smart use of data that has enabled a business to provide a new level of service,” he continued. “For many retailers, the real tipping point comes when you are able to offer a consumer the same experience online, as you do instore. For many consumers issues seem to arise from a lack of communications between departments – resulting in disjointed conversations online and then in person.
“For consumers to truly feel the full benefit of data, retailers need to offer a consistently personalised experience – online, offline and everything in between.”

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