Don’t be Equifax. Design for trust instead

Consumer trust is at an all time low. Questionable data practices, outdated business models and zero-sum experiences have made this so.

If you’ve only got two minutes and you want to understand why this trust gap is today’s reality, the Equifax data breach is the perfect example.

Here’s the thing, data breaches can and do happen. What’s important is how you deal with them, what you learn from them and how you evolve your practices to protect the people you serve as customers going forward. Executives selling $1.8m in stock in just three days whilst waiting over a month to communicate the breach doesn’t quite cut it.

But what’s better is embedding privacy, security and transparency into organisational workflows, products and customer-facing services from the outset. In 2017, privacy, security and data transparency are pre-requisites, not nice to haves.

So let’s talk about trust and the responsibility we have as practitioners to design for it.

It’s time to design for trust

We’ve been obsessing over personal data market dynamics for the best part of five or six years. We’ve been working with brands to evolve their metrics, tools and approaches, so that trust can become their competitive advantage.

Around the same time this obsession began, the World Economic Forum released a fantastic paper that articulated the potentially colossal opportunity personal data represented. But to realise all of this value certain market conditions had to be met.

‘Personal data is becoming a new economic “asset class”, a valuable resource for the 21st century that will touch all aspects of society. This report finds that, to unlock the full potential of personal data, a balanced ecosystem with increased trust between individuals, government and the private sector is necessary.’

Personal Data: The Emergence of a New Asset Class, 2011

If you’re wondering whether or not these conditions have been met, please keep reading. If you already know these conditions haven’t been met and want to do something about it, please keep reading also.

In much of the world it’s become a fairly widely held view that today’s outdated models — those that effectively rely on ‘people as the product’ — cannot continue. Regulation won’t allow for it. People won’t stand for it. Brands cannot afford it.

Although this has long been anticipated, it’s finally time. Now is the time to design for trust.

Introducing Data Transparency by Design

Throughout our research and experimentation, we’ve come to learn data transparency has the single greatest impact on a brand’s trustworthiness. Trustworthy brands are inherently more meaningful. They outperform the stock market by 206%.

When data transparency becomes part of your values, culture and processes, and eventually finds its way into your products and services, you will gain competitive advantage.

This is perhaps one of the most significant moves you can make today.

To make this competitive advantage a reality you need to first understand the market. You need to make sure you really understand your customers. And you need to evolve your design practice with the tools and approaches of Data Transparency by Design.

To be clear, data transparency is succinctly communicating what data you intend to use, along with when, how, where, why and with whom you intend to use it, so the people you serve as customers are informed, empowered and capable of making choices.

Data Transparency by Design (DTbD) is a set of principles and practices that embed data transparency into every stage of the product, service and experience design process so the people you serve as customers are informed, empowered and capable of making choices.

The ‘3 plays’ to design for trust

Through our ongoing collaboration with Data Transparency Lab, we developed 3 practical ‘plays’ that organisations can make to progress from zero to one. Or rather, from trust gap to return on trust.

These plays exists to support organisations in firmly grasping today’s data trust market dynamics, deepening their understanding of the people they serve as customers and evolving their design practice with new tools and approaches.

As we learned about the practicality of each play, we began to build a body of knowledge. We framed hypotheses, designed experiments and optimised our tools and approaches based on what we learned.

These plays have since been turned into a practical playbook to support you in today’s most meaningful battleground: how to earn and sustain customer trust.

Designing for Trust: The Data Transparency Playbook is a ‘take to work tool’. It’s something you can use on a daily basis.

We developed this not as an eBook, but as a playbook. Rather than chapters, the playbook guides you through the three plays you must make if data transparency and data trust are to become your competitive advantage.

Before presenting our work to the market, we did what designers do. We framed hypotheses, conducted experiments and did what we could to reveal preference. We learned about how people were engaging with the content, tools and approaches. We took steps to make the final product something valuable, meaningful and engaging for the people investing their time in reading and using it at work. We even tested the playbook’s efficacy. As in, how effectively did the contents of the book enable a reader to go from simply reading, to applying the tools and approaches in ways that create some form of value.

Here’s what a few early readers and supporters are saying:

“Cultivating trust is the core responsibility for our next generation of designers. If you don’t have the user’s trust, you don’t have customers — and without customers, you don’t have a company. Developments in voice technology have raised concerns about privacy and are at the forefront of user’s minds. This playbook is a valuable resource for designers determining which data is collected, for what purpose; and how this can be communicated transparently to the user.”

Raffaela Rein, CEO, CareerFoundry

“Years ago I urged people to embed Privacy, by Design. With trust at an all-time low, it’s now time to “design for trust.” And the best way to overcome the data-trust gap is with Data Transparency by Design. This is an essential ingredient to enabling user empowerment. Use this great playbook to make trust your competitive advantage!“

Ann Cavoukian, Ph.D., LL.D. (Hon.), M.S.M. Privacy by Design Centre of Excellence, Ryerson University

“More than 50% of consumers are willing to pay a premium for products and services from companies they trust most. Use this playbook to design that trust and create your competitive advantage.”

Manish Bahl, CxO Advisor and Author, The Business Value of Trust

“Design is responsible for a lot of the value brands create for customers. It should also be responsible for trust. Use this playbook to evolve your design practice and make trust a competitive advantage.”

James Harvey, Head of Design, Yoti

“This playbook showcases leading thinking and practical approaches to data transparency and trust design. Use it as a springboard to evolve your product design and development process. Never stop striving to create new and unique value for your customers.”

Ramzi Yakob, Digital Strategy Lead for Digital Product & Design, Aviva

These tools and approaches in this playbook can be used to tackle the design challenges of the evolving European regulatory environment. They can be used to more quickly and effectively design experiences that maximise value, meaning and engagement for your customers. They can also be used to test and prove the value data transparency has on some of the business metrics that matter most.

Armed with these new tools and approaches, we believe data transparency can become your competitive advantage. Data transparency can be the foundation from which you create new customer and business value.

But wait, it’s bigger than the 3 plays

This book is more than a call to action it’s a call to arms. ‘Designers’ have power. We have the power to empower the people we serve as customers. We can embed privacy, transparency and core human-values into the products and services we take to market. As a community we are stronger.

Although our days are spent helping brands progress from trust gap to return on trust, we’d like to think of this as an opportunity to help shape our own experiences as consumers and citizens. Just imagine having the tools to control what you do and don’t share. Imagine not having to second guess whether or not an organization is acting in your best interest. Imagine feeling like an equal in the digital world.

Right now this isn’t reality, but it can be if we take a stand and begin designing for trust today.

There are so many reasons why the time is now. Here’s another: 50% of consumers are willing to pay a premium to the brands they trust most.

Don’t wait around for your competitors to become those brands. Don’t become Equifax. Design for trust instead.

Get the playbook now.

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