How to gain customer trust, and why African CIOs now need to care

As African consumers have more choices for online services, businesses need to provide a good online experience to create a relationship with customers.

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Now that more African businesses are moving to the cloud to provide new services  and open up new revenue opportunities, the issue of trust is coming to the fore for technology executives on the continent.

For a prime example from Africa of what happens to a business when trust is broken, take the case of KPMG South Africa, which has had a difficult 18 months.

In 2018, the audit, tax and advisory firm was linked to political corruption that helped private interests to influence the South African government’s decision-making. And the revelations about their involvement saw a number of senior employees, and several clients, jumping ship. “Our on-going task is to re-establish trust of the SA business community and society,” said KPMG’s new CEO, Ignatius Sehoole, at a conference earlier this year. The task is sure to be an uphill battle.

KPMG’s questionable partnerships, coupled with several other scandals, have seen the financial services industry once again being ranked as the least trusted sector, according to the annual Edelman Trust Barometer, which has measured trust in business, NGOs, government and the media for close to two decades.

But that doesn’t mean that the globe’s technology bigwigs have a clear track record. In fact, “techlash” took the runner up spot in 2018 Oxford Dictionary search for word of the year. A techlash is defined as the “strong and widespread negative reaction to the growing power and influence that large technology companies hold”. From large-scale data breaches and the rise of fake news to the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal – where a personality-quiz app collected personal data not only of users who took the quiz but their friends as well --  trust remains a challenge for the world’s tech elite.  

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