Highlighting a strong need to build trust in the region, a study from Microsoft and IDC, Understanding Consumer Trust in Digital Services in Asia Pacific revealed that only approximately one in four (27%) consumers in New Zealand believed their personal data would be treated in a trustworthy manner by organisations offering digital services.
Almost all transactions and interactions in New Zealand, from organisations and government agencies to banks and retailers, are becoming digital. At the same time, consumers are becoming more aware of the cybersecurity risks and the risks to the privacy of their personal data, not just from cybercriminals but also from organisations holding on to their personal data.
The study aims to understand consumers' expectations of trust, uncover their experiences with digital services and provide tangible insights to organisations to help them earn and sustain the trust of consumers in the digital world.
“As New Zealand is one of the most digitally active markets in the region, the upside for organisations with a trusted digital platform is tremendous,” said Microsoft NZ national technology officer Russell Craig.
“However, despite consumers' increasing reliance on digital services, there is still a considerable trust gap that needs to be addressed. Most consumers still do not perceive organisations to be trusted data stewards. I urge business leaders to do more to understand what drives consumer trust and focus on how they can build trust and make it a key competitive advantage for their digital services.
The study, which surveyed 453 consumers in New Zealand, asked respondents to provide their opinions on the five elements of trust – namely privacy, security, reliability, ethics, and compliance – when using digital services.
The study revealed consumers feel that all five elements of trust are almost equally important to them. Specifically, security (91%), privacy (88%) and reliability (87%) emerged as the top three most important elements. Consumers also have the highest expectations of trust from financial services institutions, followed by healthcare organisations and education providers.
Trust in digital services is fragile
The study found establishing a trusted platform needs to be a priority in organisations' digital services strategy. Only six per cent of consumers would favour an organisation that offers a cheaper but less trusted digital platform above a more reliable one. Additionally, more than three out of five (62%) consumers said they would recommend a trusted digital service to others even if the cost was higher.
“Trust is absolutely critical for organisations to succeed in this digital world, as consumers, businesses and governments overwhelmingly prefer to transact with organisations with a trusted digital platform,” said Louise Francis, Research Director at IDC Australia and NZ. “As competition between digital services becomes more intense and global in nature, advocacy through word of mouth can be a powerful differentiator for the organisation and a shot in the arm for the brand.
The study also uncovered that more than one in four (28%) consumers have had their trust compromised when using digital services. The top three trust elements that cause consumers to stop using digital services are reliability, security and privacy.
More importantly, the study established that consumers will take action if they have a negative trust experience. More than half (56%) of the respondents would switch to another organisation, while 29% would reduce the usage of the digital service. Two out of five (40%) of consumers would stop using that kind of digital service altogether.
Building trust in digital services and AI
As technology continues to transform how we live, work and play, all organisations providing digital services and harnessing the capabilities of Artificial Intelligence should be responsible for fulfilling the five elements of trust with their customers directly.
However, the responsibility of building trust should not just be on the shoulders of these organisations providing digital services but also the broader industry, including government institutions and technology companies.
The study showed that consumers in New Zealand feel that the government (39%) should take the lead in building trust, followed by technology companies (36%), indicating the need for a stronger partnership between governments and technology companies.
When it comes to fostering trust in AI technologies, consumers feel that the government (53%) and technology companies (24%) should take the lead in ensuring AI is used in a trusted manner.