With the help of artificial intelligence (AI), businesses are streamlining operations, enhancing customer experiences, and even creating written and visual content that was once the sole domain of human creativity.
But New Zealanders are nervous about the use of AI and distrustful of companies using it.
A global, 31-country survey by Ipsos in July 2023 found Kiwis are more nervous about AI and more distrustful than their global counterparts. It found only 43% of New Zealanders trust companies that use AI will protect their personal data, with a similar number (42%) saying they trust companies that use AI as much as they trust other companies. In the same study, 63% of New Zealanders surveyed said products and services that use AI make them nervous – compared with a 52% global country average.
PR agency, HMC, tackles the subject of trust-building in the age of ChatGPT in its latest CRUNCH podcast episode.
While HMC director Heather Claycomb can see the huge benefits that will come with AI adoption, she also believes AI has muddied the waters of trust between businesses and their customers.
“Generative AI is relatively new – we are just days away from ChatGPT’s one-year launch anniversary.
“However, most people in our community have virtually no awareness or understanding of generative AI technologies. So, when they discover that a photographic image isn’t a real picture, or that an article was produced by a computer, not a person, it jars their mind. They can become distrustful very quickly.”
For Heather, one key to maintaining trust when embracing the use of generative AI is full disclosure.
“For now, HMC’s view is that whenever AI-generated content is used by a company, they should disclose the fact. Not only does this maintain business integrity, it also helps people acclimatise to the use of the technology. As AI becomes normalised, it’s likely disclosure will no longer be necessary. But it is for now,” she says.
With AI stirring up nervousness and suspicion, businesses must be purposeful to reap the benefits of trust.
“Creating a high-trust organisation is basically your license to operate. It gives you the power to take risks and recover quickly when you make mistakes. Trust gives you a competitive advantage. And high-trust organisations reap the rewards of loyal, hard-working staff,” says Heather.
Companies can build trust by implementing five key principles:
Be authentic and real
In an age where people are wondering what is real and what’s not, there is opportunity for companies to emphasise their authenticity.
HMC senior account manager, Emma Letessier says, “Our business sector has concentrated so hard on becoming global, the ‘age of AI’ could force organisations back to local, back to being authentic and back to building relationships in our immediate communities. And when this happens, it could be incredibly transformative to the way we do business. This phenomenon is going to be interesting to watch.”
Listen more than you talk
Listening and truly absorbing what your staff, customers and community are saying is an incredibly important step to building trust.
“Build in several feedback mechanisms into everything you do. And ensure your staff is connected to those who matter most to your business. Listening and acting on what you are hearing is critical for trust-building,” says Heather.
Tell great stories that demonstrate your values
Authenticity and relatability are necessary for building trust. So, why do some businesses have these qualities while others struggle? For CEO of King St Chris Williams, it comes back to the foundational values of the company.
“Your values are your cornerstone. That sounds clichéd but they really are. What is it that your people believe? What do you stand for? What is your mission, the purpose that gets you get out of bed every day?
“If you can find ways to creatively keep these foundational values in front of your staff, customers and community, you’ll continually grow into an organisation that people can trust. And if people trust you, they will do business with you.”
Keep your promises and apologise when you don’t
“Every organisation will make a mistake at some point. A key to building trust is being proactive to acknowledge and apologise when you make a mistake and then fix it,” says Heather.
Entertain and have a laugh
Don’t forget the power of shared laughter to break down barriers and build relationships.
Williams says, “Negativity is the order of the day. So much of what we are reading online, seeing in the media or talking about with our friends and family can be really depressing. So, let’s try to put a smile on people’s faces. Let’s entertain a little bit.
“Everyone has the capacity to have a laugh once in a while, and when we do it together, camaraderie and trust bonds forms.”
Tune into the HMC CRUNCH podcast on most podcasting apps or online at www.wearehmc.co.nz/crunch.