Nov 18 2022

How Organizations Can Earn Customers’ Trust by Safeguarding Their Privacy

Companies must be transparent about how they use consumer data to avoid losing customers’ business.

Once you lose someone’s trust, it can be very difficult to win it back. That’s why it’s better to work to keep it once you have it. Organizations should bear that in mind as they strive to protect their customers’ privacy. Customers are increasingly tying how companies protect their data to their views of how companies treat them overall.

That’s what 81 percent of respondents told us in our 2022 consumer privacy survey, the highest percentage who have felt that way since we began track-ing it three years ago.

Organizations must do more than merely comply with the law. They must be transparent with customers about how their data is used and work to ensure it is not misused. If they don’t, customers could avoid making new purchases or flock to competitors.

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More Transparency Means More Trust 

Besides legal compliance, there is a lot organizations can do to earn customers’ trust on data privacy, including not selling personal information, avoiding data breaches that expose personal data and allowing customers to configure their own privacy settings.

However, when asked to rank what’s most important to them, 39 percent of respondents to the Cisco survey picked having “clear information on how data is used” as their top priority.

Consumers are making it clear that they expect organizations to be candid with them about how they use their information and to make that information accessible and digestible.

According to our survey, 76 percent said they would not buy from a company that they do not trust with their data. Companies that collect only the data needed to serve the customer and use it only in ways the customer would expect are winning points in terms of trust.

Robert Waitman
If organizations are not doing all they can to earn and keep customers’ trust, they risk losing those customers.”

Robert Waitman Director of Data Privacy, Cisco

Use AI to Boost the Customer Experience

As more organizations use artificial intelligence tools to improve the customer experience, customers are warming to the idea that AI is beneficial, with 43 percent saying they recognize that AI can be useful in improving their lives — up three points from last year.

Nonetheless, many expressed concern with how organizations are using their personal data for AI today: 65 percent say they have lost some trust in organizations as a result of how they use AI.

Customers are very concerned about their data being fed into AI-based algorithms used in automated decision- making, according to the survey, with many respondents saying that such uses would make them trust a company less.

Nearly half said that using such data for automated decisions about whether they would get a job interview, for example, or be approved for a loan would turn them off.


The percentage of respondents who say the way an organization treats personal data is “indicative of how it views and respects its customers."

Source: Cisco, “Data Transparency’s Essential Role in Building Customer Trust: Cisco 2022 Consumer Privacy Survey,” October 2022

Organizations earn trust when it comes to AI tools by giving people more control over whether their data is used for AI at all and by being more mindful about the ways businesses use it.

As many as three-quarters of respondents said they would be put at ease if they could opt out of such systems or if companies instituted responsible AI management programs.

READ MORE: Discover the latest security best practices and how to prevent data breaches.

The Perils of Breaking Trust 

People understand that businesses run on data, and that, in general, they use the data they gather to improve products and processes. However, they also value businesses that are transparent about how data is gathered, stored, secured and used. In fact, 37 percent of consumers say they have already switched companies or providers to better protect their privacy. That’s up from 34 percent two years ago.

Businesses can see a very strong return by investing in data privacy. Those investments pay off in terms of greater agility, operational efficiency and the value of the company. The bottom line is that companies should want their customers to trust them. No relationship will last long without trust. 

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