Trust dur­ing a cri­sis: It’s time for the turn­around

Maximilian

Trust is essential in times of crisis. While companies often strive to present themselves as approachable and authentic, executives say it is becoming increasingly difficult to build and maintain customer confidence. However, key factors are frequently disregarded.

For consumers, the current situation is one negative headline after another. The cost of living is skyrocketing, overall security is more delicate than expected, and trust is increasingly becoming a precious, irreplaceable commodity. Yet this is precisely what presents companies with a major challenge: How can trust be built sustainably? Especially in Europe, three factors are becoming increasingly relevant: Data protection, climate protection and regionality

Data protection, the warden of trust

In 2021, 66% of global participants in a Statista study stated that technology companies have too much control over their personal data. Meanwhile, only 6% said they disagreed with this sentiment. A result that speaks volumes and yet at the same time hardly comes as a surprise. Especially technology companies have been subject to a great deal of public scrutiny in recent years on the subjects of data protection and ethics among consumers. The general skepticism is the logical consequence of this.

In light of such violations, an increasingly chilly breeze is gusting towards companies. In its Trust Report, the U.S. software manufacturer Adobe published a study on the importance of trust in customer relationships. According to the report, seven out of ten executives in Germany feel that it is now more difficult to build and maintain trust than it was two years ago. On the consumer side, nearly half of those surveyed said they would no longer buy from a brand after a breach of trust. The long-term negative consequences of careless handling of personal data should therefore by no means be understated.

Climate protection, the builder of trust

The grand cloud is casting its shadow, and we are standing right beneath it. The increasing digitization currently accompanies the growing impact on the environment. Every YouTube video, every Zoom call, and even every Google search is a small trickle that adds fuel to the fire. According to a study by the Fraunhofer Institute, streaming generates up to 90 grams of CO2 per hour, depending on the Internet connection. Given the usage data of major providers, this is a figure that is definitely cause for concern.

The other side of the coin, however, is that there is enormous potential for climate-neutral video usage - for example, through the use of renewable energies. With climate change being the biggest issue of our time, companies in particular need to adapt to new demands. Publicly effective measures such as planting trees are no longer sufficient if they are counteracted by the emissions of the company's own video portal. The concept of sustainability must handled from a macro perspective and can only be achieved through a deliberate choice of trustworthy partners.

Regionality, the confidence booster

If you buy regionally, you are on the safe side - at least that is the mindset when it comes to food. And although this motto applies all the more in the technology sector, many companies still make themselves dependent on the infrastructure of insecure third countries. At least, that's the conclusion that can be drawn from data collected on usage. According to a survey by Spiceworks, 83% of the companies surveyed use a version of Microsoft Office. Meanwhile, other U.S. solutions such as Google Workspace are growing in popularity.

Skyrocketing oil, gas and electricity prices once again highlighted how risky unilateral dependency can be. While the European Union is now taking targeted steps to improve this situation, we are running into the next crisis as a result of our blind trust in U.S. technology service providers. A strong Europe needs a sustainably planned digitization concept. This also includes the targeted promotion of regional service providers and a comprehensive expansion of the corresponding infrastructure. A non-transparent and negligent surrender of personal data constitutes a bitter defeat for the autonomy of the region. Trust is built on proximity - and that is precisely why data must be stored and processed within Europe.

Awareness is fine, trust is better

"Got Milk?" is a thing of the past. Especially in the digital world, a new era of trust is emerging. No longer is it enough to create attention through clever advertising measures. Trust must be fostered and cultivated over the long haul. By using data-protection-compliant, climate-friendly and, above all, European software solutions, companies and organizations are taking an important step toward creating and maintaining trust among their customers and partners.

 

Sources and further information:

 
Statista survey results
Horizont article on brand trust
Fraunhofer-Society
Article on climate protection
Spiceworks survey results