AI can significantly increase trust in companies that deploy it in a human way, new international study finds

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  • Customers don't trust companies as much as companies think they do, by an average of 11 percentage points, creating a “trust gap.”
  • Businesses that deploy AI for the benefit of their customers can reduce the trust gap by almost half.
  • When businesses think about how to earn customer trust, they underestimate the importance of shared values, humanity and consistency.
  • The latest global Fit for The Future report from Vodafone Business and the London School of Economics finds that the right technologies and approaches can help close the trust gap between businesses and their customers. Fit for the future

According to a new global study by Vodafone Business, businesses that use AI and generative AI to improve response times could see a 16% increase in customer trust scores and a competitive advantage if they deploy the technology with a human touch – when they do so in a way that benefits the customer and addresses ethical, privacy and data security concerns.

A study conducted in partnership with the London School of Economics surveyed more than 2,300 businesses and 5,000 customers across 10 markets and found that there's a gap between how much businesses believe their customers trust them and how much trust they actually have. This “trust gap” averages 11 percentage points and has a real impact on business performance, leading to missed opportunities, disappointing customers, and lost revenue.

Amanda Jobbins, chief marketing officer at Vodafone Business, said: “Trust makes a huge difference to how businesses perform. We are at a tipping point when it comes to trust associated with new technologies such as AI, and how we use them in business. The difference between eroding trust or gaining it will depend on how companies deploy these technologies.”

Research has 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 improve trust scores by up to 16%.

The report also revealed that 59% of customers believe AI-savvy companies are more likely to make accurate predictions, and 53% say they are confident AI technology will help them complete day-to-day tasks more efficiently.

Journalist and author Matthew Syed says, “Building trust takes time and effort, but it pays to be mindful. Businesses can reap both big and subtle benefits by building trust into everything they do, including the adoption of new technology. Trust doesn't just mean delivering good, reliable products and services, it means going the extra mile to make sure customers feel connected to your employees, your brand, and your company.”

How does the trust gap vary across industries and sectors?

This disparity varies widely across industries. For example, healthcare has a trust gap of 14 points – worse than retail, technology and public services, and almost four times larger than professional services. Typical B2B businesses, such as construction and professional services, likely foster more trusting relationships because they have clear contractual terms that guarantee outcomes. This explains why the trust gap is much narrower than other industries.

How will a “future-fit” business be measured?

Vodafone tracks a group of companies it describes as “future-fit”. These companies are almost three times more likely to align with their customers on the importance of shared values, humanity and consistency. In addition to being more aligned with these customer priorities, “future-fit” organisations are already using technology to improve response times, manage data securely and deliver information to customers in faster and more reliable ways. Previous reports have shown that future-fit companies are both commercially successful and have higher ESG scores.

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Notes to editors


The quantitative research was commissioned by Vodafone Business and carried out by B2B International in collaboration with the London School of Economics, and surveyed 2,359 businesses and 5,289 private customers across 10 markets and 11 major economic sectors.

To create trust scores for companies and industries, the study asked survey participants to rate their organizations on a scale of 1 to 5 depending on the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with four statements in each of the three pillars of the trust definition. Companies were asked to score themselves on these scales based on how their customers would rate them.

For more details, see the methodology section of the report.

About Fit for the Future

In 2020, Vodafone Business set out to explore which businesses are future-ready, what sets them apart, how they are tackling different challenges, and how they fared during the pandemic. We conducted qualitative and quantitative research in 10 markets around the world in 2019 and 2020. We found six characteristics that most clearly correlate with businesses. We labelled these businesses “Fit for the Future” (FFTF).

FFTF companies are more confident in their ability to use technology, react quickly to upcoming trends, and are faster to market than their competitors. This includes monitoring their carbon footprint. We continue to track in our research how well FFTF companies handle potential issues and scenarios compared to less-prepared companies.

For our 2021 report, we partnered with the London School of Economics to explore whether “Fit for the Future” impacts company performance. The report found a close correlation between “Fit for the Future” and commercial performance. Companies with higher “Fit for the Future” scores have better financial performance relative to their peers, even after controlling for factors such as company size, location and industry. Similarly, “Fit for the Future” is associated with higher ESG scores.

About Vodafone

Vodafone is a leading telecommunications company in Europe and Africa. We provide mobile and fixed services to over 330 million customers in 15 countries (excluding Italy, which is held as a discontinued operation within the Vodafone Group), partner with mobile networks in over 45 countries, and own one of the world's largest IoT platforms. In Africa, our financial technology business serves approximately 79 million customers in seven countries and manages more transactions than any other provider.

Our purpose is to build a better future by using technology to improve lives and businesses and contribute to the development of inclusive and sustainable societies. We are committed to reducing our environmental impact to reach net-zero emissions by 2040.

For more information, visit, follow @VodafoneGroup on X or visit us on LinkedIn at

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Registered Office: Vodafone House, The Connection, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2FN, England. Registered in England No. 183367

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