Can AI solve the trust crisis?

Trust is the foundation that underpins every good relationship. Of course, the business relationships you form with your customers are no exception. When customers trust you, they’re happy to use your products and much more likely to promote them to others. Do the wrong thing and lose that trust, however, and all of the goodwill you’ve spent months or even years cultivating can be lost in an instant. 

The reality is that when you lose your customers’ trust, they won’t think twice about leaving you. Plus, even if you can win them back, doing so will be a long uphill battle. Not surprisingly, all of this means that the economic implications of a breach in trust can be dire. According to a recent study by The Economist, for example, companies that suffered such a breach saw their valuations decline by an average of 30 percent. 

Why data is at the heart of so many trust issues

These days, where businesses fall down most often in terms of trust is with their use of customer data. Not only do major data breaches regularly make headlines, many companies are getting caught making poor choices when it comes to how they handle their customers’ data. While the Cambridge Analytica scandal remains one of the most visible examples of a company misappropriating user data, plenty of others have raised concerns, too. Recently, Google came under fire about patient privacy issues when it was revealed that the company is partnering with a major healthcare system to collect the health data of millions of Americans.

What these and countless other examples all suggest is that we’re in the midst of a major trust crisis. Underscoring the point, according to a recent report from Salesforce on trends in consumer trust, 59 percent of consumers fear that their personal data is vulnerable to hackers. Meanwhile 54 percent think that companies simply don’t operate with their customers’ best interests in mind.

Unfortunately, in many cases, they’re right. 

The apps that we all use on a daily basis to manage our lives routinely share the data they collect about us with third parties. And they typically do so without ever disclosing this to you or asking for your permission. Facebook, in particular, has been under intense scrutiny for the vast amounts of data it has been collecting in this way. Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal reported how the company receives data from apps that measure everything from people’s heart rates to their menstrual cycles within seconds of that information being recorded.

AI offers a better way

To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with collecting and analyzing data to discover insights and trends in the aggregate. Where things become problematic, however, is when that data contains personally identifiable information (PII) that can be tied back to specific individuals. That’s because such data has the potential to be exploited in ways that make customers feel uncomfortable and that can ultimately undermine their trust.

It’s for these reasons that today’s businesses need to look at how they can harness the benefits of customer data without allowing trust to become an issue. We believe that the best way to get a more integrated view of your customers, while not putting your business at risk of compromising anyone’s trust, is by using privacy-preserving AI techniques. By integrating with your tech stack, the right solution will discover patterns in your data, allowing you to build first-party machine learning models without using PII. Data from other industries can then be used to boost model performance and provide a clearer view of your customers.

In our view, the best way to solve the trust crisis is to use AI responsibly. By crowdsourcing behavioral patterns across multiple touchpoints and channels, you can gain a broader understanding of your customers without the need PII. In that way, you get the insights you need and your customers get to keep their peace of mind. 

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