There’s been lots of hype about how technologies like artificial intelligence will automate and stabilize consumer engagement, but when it comes to brand trust, consumers may not be 100 percent on board.

In fact, a new survey from digital engagement services firm ModSquad, conducted by Harris Interactive, reveals Americans rank engagement with a human customer agent as “very influential.”

“Consumers today don’t separate product from brand, so it’s important that companies think beyond pricing and features, and offer amazing experiences,” said Amy Pritchard, ModSquad founder and CEO, in a news release. “For businesses serious about brand trust, this survey is a good reminder of how much human engagement influences consumers.”

The survey examined consumer brand trust in the shadow of recent compromised online and social media user data. Findings include:

  • 70 percent are more concerned with how their information is handled by other online services in light of what’s happened with user data recently.
  • Brand trust is wavering. Despite all the review sites and access to information consumers have today versus in 2013, 6 out of 10 are less sure or not sure about their trust in brands today.

With trust as the backbone for great customer engagement, the survey explored what influences respondents trust:

  • Approximately 38 percent rank 24/7 access to a human agent as “influential” to their trust versus only 25 percent citing visibility to company’s leadership as influencing their trust.
  • While friends and family are the most trusted sources for recommendations, 20 percent of Gen Z rank online communities and forums as second trusted source, indicating increasing influence of community-oriented engagement with younger consumers.
  • For Millennials, news stories rank the lowest as a trusted resource for recommendations (7 percent).

Consumer trust in brands is fading—here’s how it can be saved

The survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of ModSquad from April 11-12, 2018 among a nationally representative sample of 1,050 U.S. adults ages 18 and older.

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