AI can boost trust in businesses that deploy it in a human way

Businesses that use AI and Generative AI to deliver faster response times could see a 16% jump in customer trust scores if the technology is deployed with a human touch – meaning for the benefit of customers, and in a way that addresses any ethical, privacy or data security concerns – according to new global research by Vodafone Business, giving them a competitive advantage.

A study delivered in partnership with the London School of Economics, which surveyed more than 2,300 businesses and over 5,000 customers across 10 markets, identified a divide between how much businesses think they are trusted by customers compared with what their customers actually feel. That “Trust Gap” is on average 11 percentage points, and has a real impact on business performance, representing missed opportunities, disappointed customers and lost revenue.

Amanda Jobbins, Chief Marketing Officer, Vodafone Business said: “Trust makes a material difference to a business’s performance. The trust associated with new technologies like AI, and how they’re used by businesses, is at an inflection point. The difference between eroding trust or winning it comes down to how businesses deploy these technologies.”

The research found that businesses underestimate the importance of shared values, humanity and consistency when thinking about how to win customer trust. Taking a “human-first” approach to applying new technologies can boost trust scores by up to 16%.

The report also found that 59% of customers think that AI-savvy businesses are more likely to make accurate predictions and 53% say they would have confidence in AI technologies completing day-to-day tasks more effectively.

Matthew Syed, Journalist and Author, said: “Building trust takes time and effort, but it also helps if you care. Businesses can benefit in both huge and more subtle ways by building trust into everything they do, not least deploying new technologies. Trust isn’t just about delivering a good and reliable product or service, but going the extra mile to ensure that customers feel connected to employees, brand and business.”

How does the trust gap differ per industry or sector?

This divide also varies greatly when looking across industries. The Trust Gap in healthcare, for example, is 14 points. That’s worse than retail, technology and public services, and almost four times wider than that of professional services. It seems that typically-B2B businesses like construction and professional services foster a more trustworthy relationship because they have clear contract terms that promise results, which helps explain why their trust gap is so much narrower than other sectors.

How do ‘Fit for the Future’ businesses measure up?

Vodafone tracks a cohort of businesses described as “Fit for the Future.” These firms are almost three times more likely to align with customers on the importance of shared values, humanity and consistency. On top of being more aligned with these customer priorities, “Fit for the Future” organisations are already using technology to improve response times, manage data safely and deliver information to customers in a faster, more reliable way. Previous reports have shown that Fit for the Future Businesses are more commercially successful and have higher ESG scores.

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