What defines a digital trust company?
Big tech companies may have a user trust problem on their hands. According to the Washington Post, 72% of Facebook users don’t trust the website to handle their sensitive data responsibly, with other networking giants like TikTok and Instagram not faring much better at about 60% user distrust.
Though people may still use a website or platform they don’t trust, they’re much less likely to make it a mainstay of their online experience or to recommend it to friends and family. So, how do tech companies address low user confidence?
What is digital trust?
Digital trust is the confidence users have in a given website, app, or technology to provide security, privacy, and good ethics along with their services. When there’s a digital trust deficit, users may take their business elsewhere or give poor satisfaction ratings.
For example, after news of the Cambridge Analytica breach became public, Facebook lost approximately $134 billion in market value and #DeleteFacebook trended on Twitter. Though the company was able to recover its stock losses, regaining the public’s trust has proven a much more difficult task.
The goal of engendering digital trustworthiness is to achieve the opposite outcome to the above. Put simply, the more confidence a company can earn from its user base, the better its reputation, and the more users it can acquire and retain.
Digital trust is closely related to the trust and safety initiatives adopted by tech giants like Google and Youtube. Typical trust and safety initiatives such as fraud prevention and content moderation are vital components in preserving an online environment that users will want to be a part of.
Ultimately, what differentiates a digital trust company from the rest is a commitment to a trust-first, user-first approach to running a digital enterprise.
How does a business build digital trust?
Different enterprises will have different approaches to engendering confidence in their users and addressing trust and safety issues. There’s no one consensus about the best way to build confidence in the digital sphere, but a few frameworks and foundational principles exist.
One approach might look like “trustworthy by design,” wherein trust is a top priority considered at every phase of product development and release. For instance, a product developer might come up with ideas for a new feature on an online marketplace. In a trust-by-design approach, the developer would then question how that feature will impact the users’ confidence in the company, and address any potential ethical or privacy issues before proceeding.
Other approaches organize themselves around “pillars” or “dimensions” intended to guide best practices and decision-making around trust and safety online. The Deloitte Insights newsletter cites four pillars of digital trust: transparency and accessibility, ethics and responsibility, privacy and control, and security and reliability.
Using a policy or framework approach can enable a digital trust company to prioritize user confidence in their brand and products.
- Digital trust is the confidence users have in a given website, app, or technology to provide security, privacy, and good ethics along with their services
- Losing user trust can have negative impacts on a company, such as loss of user retention, loss of revenue, and poor reputation
- Following trust and safety best practices can help businesses build digital trust
Biggest threats to digital trust companies
There are a few main types of adverse events that can cause a trust deficit towards a given company.
If a user becomes a victim of fraud while using an online marketplace or platform, they may leave poor reviews, stop using the platform, and warn off friends and family. However, on the flip side, if a website’s security measures introduce too much friction, users may opt-out and leave themselves vulnerable to risk. Companies that value customer confidence have to strike a balance between reducing friction and preventing fraud.
For example, a user that finds multi-factor authentication to be cumbersome might opt-out and leave themselves open for ATO or account takeover fraud. Companies looking to promote secure solutions have to go beyond friction-filled authentication solutions to embrace passive authentication tactics such as device and location intelligence.
Abusive or hateful content
When people willingly enter into a community together, there’s an expectation of mutual respect and understanding. If a company hires employees with offensive social media posting history, allows abusive content on their platforms, or fails to deal with harassment between users, there won’t be a solid foundation for people to feel safe in that business.
What’s more, failing to address abusive content can act like a vicious cycle. As bad actors discover they can get away with posting hateful content, they’ll do it more, and spread the word to other people with the same intentions. The legitimate users of the platform then see the failure to address these individuals, and leave. Thus the business has lost its digital trust and curated a user base of people who routinely violate community guidelines.
Data breaches and other security lapses
In addition to having good ethics, trustworthiness also relies on good security. When a customer trusts a company with their personal or financial information such as credit card numbers, addresses, phone numbers, and even social security numbers, they want to have confidence that the company will do its best to protect that information. Data breaches break this trust and encourage users to take their business elsewhere. Digital trust companies should invest in cybersecurity training for all employees as well as a spoof-resistant authentication technology.
The benefits of curating digital trust
When digital trust companies help their users, they also help themselves. Preventing fraud keeps users safe and helps build a trustworthy platform, but it also helps a business avoid chargebacks and other fraud losses. Moderating content and enforcing community guidelines makes the platform an enjoyable space for users, and it also gives administrators a product they can be proud of.
One of the most obvious benefits of building digital confidence is that a positive reputation helps companies to gain and retain customers, but it’s also a significant step towards running a more ethical business overall.