Flawed humans are more trusted than perfect machines.
November 2017. Uber hits the headlines (again) for covering up a data breach that affected 57 million customers and drivers.
November 2017. Fitness tracking company, Strava, publish a global heatmap of users' activity. “The largest, richest, and most beautiful dataset of its kind,” they say. What they don’t realise is that soldiers’ running routes reveal locations of secret US army bases in places like Afghanistan and Syria.
December 2017. The BBC launches a new scheme to help young people tell the difference between real and fake news. This follows a study that revealed many are unable to make the distinction.
This is the world we live in. We fend off attacks on our privacy. We buy beautiful, five-star-rated things that turn out ugly. We follow many – communities, companies, the media – but we trust few.
The decline of trust
The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals ‘a world of seemingly stagnant distrust.’ Even if that’s true, people do trust. We have to. We trust doctors to keep us heathy. We trust teachers with our children. We trust mechanics to keep us on the road.
For the first time, the trust barometer reports that the media is the least trusted institution globally.
The demise of confidence is driven primarily by a significant drop in trust in platforms, notably search engines and social media. Sixty three percent of respondents say they do not know how to tell good journalism from rumour or falsehoods or if a piece of news was produced by a respected media organisation. This lack of faith has also led to an inability to identify the truth.
Have we really lost the ability to identify truth?
We have more choice today than ever before. A few short decades ago, there were three TV news channels in the UK. Now there are hundreds. Factor in the internet and that number multiplies exponentially. They’re not all saying the same thing - so who’s version of the truth do you trust?
As trust in the media and our peers declines, personal experience becomes ever more important. Positive consumer experiences reinforce our decision to trust this news site or that company.
Surprise, surprise – people don’t trust financial services
Media might be the least trusted institution but financial services has long been one of the least trusted sectors.
For insurance, perhaps that’s because opportunities to experience making a claim are mercifully few. It follows that opportunities to build trust are few, too. And if we do have a poor customer experience, opportunities to rebuild that trust are fewer still, unless lightning strikes twice.
Research shows that a majority of people don’t trust insurers to pay out. Yet Aviva’s UK claims report shows the reality for Aviva UK in 2017 is:
of claims were accepted
was paid in cash settlements and services
was paid out every day
was paid out every minute
Other insurers have shared similar claims data. So, if numbers and percentages aren’t enough to convince us to trust insurers – and clearly, they aren’t – what is?
Aviva’s own reputation research shows that in insurance, in addition to service, reducing the complexity of products and building human relationships rather than transactional ones drive trust.
We also found that when a sector is not trusted, innovation is looked upon negatively and for the benefit of the industry and not the customer. Whereas for trusted companies, innovation is viewed as beneficial for consumers.
Flawed human vs perfect machine
As innovation and automation increases, so does the debate around its trustworthiness.
Would you go to a robot doctor? Would you entrust your child’s education to a robo-teacher? Would you feel safe in a driverless car? Many wouldn’t.
Studies show trustworthiness isn’t as much about judgements as how they are made. Judgements, even perfect judgements, based on cold calculation of consequences aren’t enough. We want machines to suffer the same sense of moral duty humans do.
Research indicates, too, that uncalculating cooperation signals trustworthiness. Husbands, wives, friends: there are some people we would unquestioningly do anything for, without a thought for our own best interests.
But who ever heard of a morally literate machine that makes judgements without calculating the consequences? Essentially, a machine that makes mistakes.
It’s illogical, but there it is. When it comes to trust, humans are irreplaceable.
From media to insurance, whatever the reason, who we trust influences where we spend our money, and where we don’t. The unignorable challenge for companies seeking long-term growth is how to earn trust, and how to keep it.
More of our Perspectives
Is this the end of the road for car insurance?
5 Jul 2019
Around the world, cars typically stand unused almost 98% of the time. And yet so many of us take on a huge financial burden just to own one. We pay out a significant amount every year to cover things like tax, fuel and, of course, car insurance.
The future of retirement
4 Jun 2019
The idea of stepping out of work at age 60 or so, and retiring, into a life of leisure is relatively recent. But with more people living longer, expectations of retirement are being reshaped.
A matter of taste
13 May 2019
Breakthroughs in food science are challenging beliefs that have driven global food producers to create products loaded with salt, sugar and hydrogenated fat. That is leaving the industry ripe for disruption.
Are we teaching machines to discriminate?
26 Apr 2019
Sexism, racism, bigotry – the thing about unconscious bias is you don’t know you’re doing it. But are you?
Customers want ‘no strings’ insurance
12 Apr 2019
‘Let me leave – but convince me to stay.’ These days, Lucas expects flexibility. And he’s not alone.
Plastic (not so) fantastic
20 Feb 2019
The environmental impact of single-use plastic is under scrutiny like never before, bringing new challenges and opportunities to industry.
Ethics and alpha: can investing responsibly enhance returns?
7 Jan 2019
Steve Waygood, Chief Responsible Investment Officer at Aviva Investors, makes the case for investing responsibly.
F for fake
14 Dec 2018
False stories published online have caused headaches for investors. But the fightback against fake news has begun, writes Jason Bohnet at Aviva Investors.
Aviva welcomes pension dashboard plans
3 Dec 2018
The Department for Work and Pensions publish the long-awaited Pensions Dashboard consultation and Feasibility Study today.
It’s time to ditch the ‘daddy daycare’ moniker
23 Nov 2018
10 years ago, my second child turned out to be twins. The cost of childcare for three children was astronomical, so my husband gave up work to become a full-time dad. It was a practical decision, but it wasn’t an easy one.
If they're in your device ... they're under your skin
9 Nov 2018
"I struggled for money this month and tried to dig myself out – loans, credit cards, extra work. Then I got an email from my bank offering me a credit card with a long interest-free period. I put my details in and waited for a response ...
Millions sleepwalking towards “less than minimum wage” at retirement
14 Sep 2018
... as private sector pension contributions fall.
Living in an immaterial world
24 Aug 2018
Stewart Robertson, Senior Economist at Aviva Investors, comments on the rising stock of invisible assets.
Will the UK give electric cars the green light?
10 Aug 2018
Why we can’t be bothered to go electric.
Happy 70th birthday, UK state pension...
5 Jul 2018
You’re more important than ever before.
Our response to the FCA's retirement outcomes review
28 Jun 2018
Responding to today’s final report of the FCA’s Retirement Outcomes Review, Alistair McQueen, head of savings and retirement at Aviva says: