Since the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal occurred earlier this year, more customers are becoming conscious of their data and how it is being used.

In a new Salesforce report, 59 per cent of customers believe their personal data is vulnerable and 54 per cent question whether businesses’ intended use of the data is in their best interests.

The report, Trends In Customer Trust, data came from a double-blind survey conducted by 6,723 individuals in Australia and New Zealand plus countries in South America, North America, Asia and Europe.

According to the research, 92 per cent of customers are more likely to trust businesses with their data when they’re given control over what is collected about them. Over 90 per cent of customers are also more likely to trust companies that are transparent about how their personal information is used and that provide strong privacy policies.

Customers point out that transparency from brands on using customers data would help address trust issues. From the research, 78 per cent of baby boomers and 91 per cent of millennials and Gen Zers would be more likely to trust companies with their personal information if the company explains how using it will deliver a better experience.

While 64 per cent of millennials and Gen Zers are comfortable with companies using personal information to personalise an experience, only 35 per cent of Baby Boomers say the same.

Dan Bognar, SVP solution engineering, cloud sales and industries, Salesforce APAC said, “Companies need to ensure that their focus on customer experience, does not outweigh the trust that their customers place in them. Companies must continue to respect the privacy and security of each customer’s personal information.”

When it comes to using artificial intelligence, the findings show 60 per cent of customers are concerned about their information being compromised because of AI. This suggests that businesses using AI have a responsibility to educate customers on what it does and the steps they’ll take to keep data secure.

Despite this, the majority of respondents are open to companies using AI to improve experiences.

The report said experience is now the key differentiator, and a major factor in customer experience is trust. Companies that earn their customers’ trust gain more than just repeat business. Customers spend more with brands they trust and are more than likely to advocate on their behalf.

Bognar said, “Today’s customers demand experiences that are fast, connected, and highly personalised. By delivering these experiences, companies will be rewarded with customers that spend more, are loyal, and are brand advocates.”

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