After yet another data breach, more customers are planning to share less information - so how do companies win back that trust?

Greg Hanson
Florida Attorney General Opens New CyberCrime Unit Office
Some customers are willing to share personal data if they receive something in return (Source: Getty)

We can barely go a week without news of another business falling foul of a data breach. Only last week, Asda joined the long line of high profile victims, with a website bug putting millions of personal details at risk.

In an age where customer experience is valued more than ever before this is a precarious position for any business or brand to find themselves in. Just look at Target and Ebay – for whom data breaches have resulted in the loss of millions (up to $18m) in revenue. As if having their brand reputation publically dragged through the mud wasn’t bad enough.

The laundry list of personal data breaches is fuelling panic amongst consumers. The latest research into the State of the Data Nation reveals that security fears stop half of UK consumers sharing personal data. What’s more, over half are reclaiming access and plan to share less data over the next three years, while a third claim nothing could incentivise them to share data at all.

As businesses work to win back customer trust, there’s another critical party to keep happy – the regulators. Customer demand for more effective data protection has been a key driver in the latest EU data rules. Failing to manage and protect sensitive information today can result in a hefty fine of up to 4 per cent of global revenues, a sum that could jeopardise business viability.

Of course, data security has climbed the ranks as a crucial differentiator for organisations looking to redress the balance. It offers a means of protection for sensitive data in the event of a breach. However, this is only possible if companies have a thorough grasp of where person-centric information is being held within their business.

In order to get a handle on data security, businesses must be able to visualise their data, regardless of its location. This involves putting strong data governance practices in place, which ensure the delivery of trusted, secure data so that industry regulations can be met and customer fears can be allayed.

To placate customers and secure access to data in the long-term there’s a trust trade-off to be negotiated between organisations and consumers. Some customers are willing to share personal data if they receive something in return, such as discounts or free services such as Wi-Fi.

There’s a long road ahead for UK businesses looking to master the art of gaining, and keeping, customer trust. The bar has been set in terms of what customers want and what industry regulators will allow.

As we push further into 2016, and watch new data breaches play out in the headlines, the organisations who master data protection and breach resiliency will be the ones that succeed in their aim to turn the tide on consumer trust.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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