Gaining Customer Trust: The New Ethical de Facto

Experiences cannot depend on customers having implicit trust. That trust must be earned.

Customer experience innovation

As customers reel from ever-increasing scams, cyberattacks, and misuse of personal information, brands no longer should expect people will trust them because “they know us.” As customers see more news coverage about unethical use of data by social media, brands, and commerce sites, experiences must change to demonstrate new sensitivity to the value and importance of personal data.

This change will have a substantial impact on designing and implementing experiences. The starting point is understanding that data rights are fast becoming human rights. The demand for transparency about what data is collected and how it will be used will determine success. A massive change is necessary, from opaque and vague data privacy notifications to full transparency.

Experiences must include an explicit delivery of real value to customers in exchange for personal information. To optimize building trust, delivering value before information requests will be the new approach. Providing value in advance or without customers feeling as though they are forced into the exchange will define experiences. Forced exchanges will become things of the past.

Enticing customers and increasing their comfort with providing personal information requires experiences to provide hyper-personalization of privacy settings. Most experiences have been designed with an “opt out” mentality when it comes to data exchange. Now, we are seeing a shift to “opt in” exchanges; however, these still are inadequate. In the future, there will be a greater ability to personalize what data is provided and when it is provided, and to align it with the type or stage of interaction. One-size-fits-all data permissioning and requests will become outdated.

To achieve this new customer experience, design teams need to invite more diverse perspectives, including underrepresented groups based on gender, economic status, or race, into the design process.  It is important to move past the “white male/CIS” tech generation that drove a lot of the early design technologies that have become embedded in our daily experiences. Those with new skill sets, such as “ethical technologists,” will work in concert with those trying to optimize the experience for the benefit of the brand.

A good example of this new approach is Ikea Private Collection. This experience allows customers to choose between different levels of abstraction to mask sensitive personal information in AR apps within the home. For more information about Ethical de Facto and other new experiences discovered by Cognizant Digital Experience, go to

Coming next:

“Phygital escapism” describes the convergence of digital and physical spaces, creating experiences once reserved for science fiction. This theme exemplifies the shift from “delighting me” to “transporting me.” With new technologies, shopping and entertainment experiences are being redefined so “being present” can mean being anywhere. New technologies such as haptic and 3D reconstruction will make many virtual experiences so lifelike that some buying processes may move away from physical interactions. Next-generation virtual experiences also may make it possible to “try on” clothes in digital stores or visit virtual tourist destinations.


Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.