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How in-app protection can help you to build trust

The less there is of something, the more we tend to value it.

And trust seems to be at a premium right now.

After all, we’re living in an age where it’s difficult to get through a day without hearing about fake news. Populist revolts are on the rise across the world. The leaders of these movements plead with those who’ll listen to not trust the elites.

But businesses aren’t immune from the global trust deficit, either. As Andrew Burt brilliantly puts it in the Harvard Business Review, “if you’re selling a product, you’re now selling trust.

And it’s those companies that learn to sell trust well who we’ll remember in years to come.

The question, then, is simple:

How can businesses become more trustworthy?

Part of it comes down to transparency. Companies have to be genuine and tell it like it is. But of increasing importance is how they look after their customers’ data. And these days a lot of that data can be found inside the apps businesses have created to make life easier for their customers.

In the coming years, protecting these apps from attacks is likely to take on an increasingly important role in the wider strategy of building trust.


The growing demand for transparency

You won’t have struggled to hear the word trust uttered in recent months. During the covid-19 crisis, trust in politicians, scientists, and the media has been put to the test.

Governments have trusted citizens to stay home and self-isolate. And citizens themselves have had to trust the advice of politicians and experts.

But the truth is that trust was being examined long before the coronavirus emerged. The financial crisis had people questioning whether we could ever truly trust banks and big business, for example.

As a result of this – and a younger generation who value trust more than ever before – another trend has emerged. Businesses have become more transparent. They’ve started telling it to their customers straight. Without hiding or sugar-coating anything.

It’s a winning tactic, because nothing puts off the modern consumer more than feeling like they’re being misled. These days, almost three quarters of consumers see transparency as being more important than price.

The importance of taking a transparent approach is underlined by the data we have on trust. An Ipsos / World Economic Forum study from last year showed that less than two fifths of people across the globe trust organizations to look after their personal data.

And a lot of this is due to them having no idea what happens to that data once they share it.


Securing your customer data makes you a safer bet

So, being honest about what you do with your customers’ data is a key facet of building trust. But it’s not enough on its own. Consumers also expect you to keep that data safe from bad actors.

When you strip trust back to its core, a lot of it comes down to competence and reliability. If you can excel at those two, you’ll go a long way. But it also explains why a security breach can be so devastating for a company’s reputation. It makes them look incompetent and unreliable.

As Neil Bayton from Trustpilot says, “on a fundamental level, a consumer will only buy from a business if they believe they will fulfil their basic promises.”

And a key promise in the modern world is that end users get the benefits of sharing their data without having to look over their shoulder all the time.

In-app protection, then, can help you to build trust with your customers. But it also makes you a safer bet for investors and other stakeholders. It shows them that you care about security. Most investors want to see that security and privacy concerns have been taken into consideration throughout the product development lifecycle. It can’t just be an afterthought.

It’s also important to communicate how you’re looking after your customers’ data. Again, this comes back to transparency. Customers and stakeholders alike will respect and trust you more if you’re open with them about how you keep your apps secure.

You can also use this communication channel with customers to tell them the ways that you’ll get in touch with them. This helps them to spot suspicious activity, such as man-in-the-middle attacks. And another key facet of the trust chain is tampering. Preventing it means stopping bad actors from modifying apps and attempting to get customers to download fake versions.


Admit the threat exists, and then defend against it

One of the reasons mobile banks and other FinTech providers have had so much success in recent years is that they’ve combined robust security with transparent comms.

Banks like Monzo, Starling Bank and N26 don’t have physical branches like older, more established banks. There’s no smiling bank manager welcoming you into her office. So there’s no way for them to build up rapport and trust in a traditional sense.

Their only opportunity to build trust is to show how seriously they take security. Their reputation depends on them keeping hackers away from the sensitive logic and data inside their apps.

But they’re also at the forefront when it comes to transparency. They often involve customers in decisions about new product launches and features. And they’re open about customer concerns regarding their privacy and data.

In a sense, they have to be. As we’ve said, this is their only opportunity to build trust with their customers. But this approach of in-app protection combined with transparency points to the future. It’s raised the bar of what consumers expect from brands.

This isn’t only a challenge to more traditional banks, but to all companies that use apps.

It’s understandable that companies might be hesitant about even talking about the security threats of the modern world. They might not want their customers to think a security breach is even a possibility.

But admitting that there is a threat builds trust.

Hackers aren’t going away anytime soon. So it’s up to businesses to be clear with their customers and investors.

You have to explain that the threat exists. But you also have to show you’re doing everything in your power to defend against it.