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UK Insights

Great expectations: how technology is driving trust

Phil Sutcliffe

UK Board Director, Offer and Innovation

Digital 27.03.2018 / 08:21


The new MRS Delphi report features insights from Kantar TNS showing how brands can build trust in a digital age.

Trust is vital for brands. The BrandZ study by WPP and Kantar Millward Brown shows that brands with above average levels of trust have grown their brand value by an average of 170% since 2006, whilst those brands with below average trust have seen brand value decline by 13%. Yet businesses are operating in an environment where there are declining levels of consumer trust overall. The Edelman Trust Barometer found significantly declining levels of trust in media (36% to 24%), the government (37% to 26%) and business (49% to 33%) since 2013. 

In a world where connected devices provide a flow of data from consumers to business, there have been several well publicised data breaches from such companies. Consequently, consumer concern about the security of their data and how it is being collected and used by organisations has been posited as one of the key factors driving the decline in trust. More broadly, the story of ‘tech’ in the media is often discussed in the context of biased algorithms, devaluation of the workforce, and the dehumanisation of society.

Kantar TNS and Lightspeed conducted research on behalf of the MRS Delphi Group with 1001 people in the UK to understand the drivers of trust across Telecoms, Banks, Retailers, Fashion Retail, Media, Transport and Public Services and to look at public perceptions of the trustworthiness of different brands and organisations.

We found great consistency in the drivers of trust across all sectors. Data security, through consumers wanting to be reassured that their ‘information is completely secure’, was the most important driver in 6 of the 7 sectors. Additionally, ensuring that ‘my participation will never put me at personal risk’ was one of the top 5 drivers. So it is clear that customer fear of data leakage is incredibly important and organisations need to consider how technology such as Blockchain can increase security and build greater trust with customers.

Key -to -the -heart -trust -brands

Regarding data security, there is some good news for the oft-maligned financial services sector, with banks – especially the big, longer established banks – being best regarded among the 42 businesses and organisations we asked about. There is more work to do on providing reassurance about data security among media companies, with both traditional media brands as well as newer media businesses having much weaker perceptions for data security.

Attributes related to the fulfilment of customer service were the second and third biggest drivers of trust: ‘providing a dependable service’ (actually the highest driver in the  transport category) and ‘always offer high standards of customer service.’ Customers want to feel a sense of control: ‘there always being someone available if I have a query or complaint’ was also a key driver, especially for banks, retailers, public services and transport.

For the fulfilment of customer service, businesses should be thinking about how technology in the form of virtual agents (chatbots) working alongside human customer service representatives can deliver improved customer service and how digitisation can be used to deliver a seamless omnichannel experience. In certain sectors, notably transport, technology can be used to keep customers better informed of service delays and changes, to manage improved traffic flow and increase customer safety.

The final key driver of trust again relates to data and specifically: ‘they do not take advantage of the information available about me.’ Whilst this need for a fair value exchange in the use of data is clearly important, organisations have work to do to establish the best ways to provide this value. It’s interesting that ‘using my personal information to provide a tailored service unique to me’ was the lowest driver of trust.


Transparency around how organisations use customer data and the value exchange they provide will become increasingly important and not just due to the impact of GDPR. The key differences in trust drivers between millennials and older people relate to use of data. Millennials have both a greater acceptance that organisations will use their data (being less concerned about permission being asked to use their data or being able to tell organisations to erase their data) but also a keener understanding of the risks than older people, with concern about being taken advantage off via their data and misuse of data putting them at personal risk being higher among millennials.

In summary, there are three overarching areas that organisations need to focus on to build trust:

  1. Providing guarantees on data security
  2. Transparency about how data is being used
  3. Delivering utility through a strong customer service

Savvy brands and organisations should be thinking about how they can use technology to provide reassurance and value in these three areas and build more enduring, trusted relationships with customers as a result.

For inspiration about how technology can be used to build this trust, there is one stand out brand that organisations can look to – the business that scored highest on average across all of our trust attributes? Amazon.


Source : Kantar TNS, Lightspeed

Editor's Notes

Download the full report here.

This was a conjoint exercise where participants were asked to trade off against pairs of attributes (‘trust expectations’) across each of the seven categories. The research with a national sample of 1001 UK adults was conducted online by Lightspeed. Fieldwork was conducted between 5–9 January 2018 with quotas set to be representative of the UK online population. You can view the percentages and wording of questions. If you have queries about this research email

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