How to Regain Customer Trust: Can Big Tech Companies Recover from a Data Breach?

Posted on October 27, 2020 - by Laird Wilton - in Building Your InfoSec Program

How-to-Regain-Customer-Trust

We love to look to big tech companies as inspirational success stories, but are they really gleaming examples to which we should look up to? Despite their apparent success, some major tech companies have struggled to recover from a data breach and regain consumer trust – even as consumers keep using their services.

We can learn from that. Here’s a closer look at what’s really going on when it comes to consumer trust.

Sharing Data with Big Tech Companies: A Necessary Evil?

In case you haven’t heard the news: your customers don’t trust you with their data even if you think you’re doing better than most at protecting it. According to a survey by PwC, 86 percent of consumers believe that it’s a company’s responsibility to protect their data. Yet, some 85 percent of survey respondents wish they could trust more companies with their data.

PwC believes that the problem has remained obscure because consumers don’t have many options when it comes to trusting big tech companies with their data. Case in point: Facebook. Despite major privacy scandals (plus several smaller ones) damaging the tech giant’s reputation, users continue to participate on the platform due to a lack of alternatives. As well as alternatives like Instagram or WhatsApp getting acquired by the tech giant.

From the outside, it looks as though users continue to trust these companies. Don’t be fooled: PwC warns that as more trustworthy options become available, users readily opt for them instead.

Transparency is Facing a Crisis

Transparency has been a major topic of discussion for the last decade. It’s widely considered one of the major building blocks of trust. Reflecting this perspective include the data privacy laws coming into effect that require businesses to divulge details about how they collect and use consumer data. Yet, transparency itself from big tech companies appears to be declining.

Digital rights advocates at the Electronic Frontier Foundation first raised the alarm with TikTok in 2019, noting supposed influence from the Chinese government. They linked it to a wider trend of declining transparency reports issued by companies in the tech sphere. Some companies, like Snapchat and Twitter, issue yearly reports about how they collect and use consumer data. Others – like Stripe – voice support of the idea only to never release a timetable of when such a report might be published.

For B2B vendors, their large clients push for this transparency and request detailed answers to security questionnaires. It takes time, effort, and planning to build a security program that will build trust with enterprise customers.

You Must Walk Your Security Talk

If there’s one takeaway from all of this, it’s that consumers are hungry for companies that demonstrate a commitment to protecting their digital privacy. PwC notes that most consumers are aware of their lack of knowledge when it comes to cybersecurity, but they’re able to tell when a company isn’t doing its part. 

To stand out to your customers, you must walk your security talk. Adopting strong data security policies aren’t enough. You must also:

  • Be clear about how you’re collecting and using customer data (while giving them a way to opt-out).
  • Explain the benefits of sharing their data with you.
  • Tell your customers exactly what you’re doing to protect their data – and then do it!

Recover from a Data Breach and Gain Consumer Trust

It can be difficult to recover from a data breach. Even if relatively little data is lost, the cost of consumer trust tends to be much greater. That’s why it’s so important to take steps to be proactive and transparent about data security. Consumers will notice and trust you for it.


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About the author

Laird Wilton is a tech entrepreneur, Techstars alumni, board member, and the COO and Co-Founder of Securicy. Securicy’s SaaS offering guides businesses through creating, implementing, and managing their information security and privacy compliance program.

Laird lives in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia with his wife and young family. When not working, he spends his time traveling with his family, coaching minor football, playing hockey and volunteering at his community’s recreation center.