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AI can significantly boost trust in businesses that deploy it in a human way, new international study reveals

3 Jul 2024Technology news
6 minute read
  • Customers do not trust businesses as much as businesses think they do – by an average margin of 11 percentage points – creating the “Trust Gap”
  • Businesses that deploy AI for the benefit of their customers could almost halve that trust gap
  • Businesses underestimate the importance of shared values, humanity and consistency when thinking about how to win customer trust
  • Latest global Fit for The Future report by Vodafone Business and the London School of Economics shows how the right technology and approach can bridge the trust gap between businesses and their customers, to make them Fit for the Future

Businesses that use AI and Generative AI to deliver faster response times could see a 16% jump in customer trust scores if the technology is deployed with a human touch – meaning for the benefit of customers, and in a way that addresses any ethical, privacy or data security concerns – according to new global research by Vodafone Business, giving them a competitive advantage.

A study delivered in partnership with the London School of Economics, which surveyed more than 2,300 businesses and over 5,000 customers across 10 markets, identified a divide between how much businesses think they are trusted by customers compared with what their customers actually feel. That “Trust Gap” is on average 11 percentage points, and has a real impact on business performance, representing missed opportunities, disappointed customers and lost revenue.

Amanda Jobbins, Chief Marketing Officer, Vodafone Business said: “Trust makes a material difference to a business’s performance. The trust associated with new technologies like AI, and how they’re used by businesses, is at an inflection point. The difference between eroding trust or winning it comes down to how businesses deploy these technologies.”

The research found thatbusinesses 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 boost trust scores by up to 16%.

The report also found that 59% of customers think that AI-savvy businesses are more likely to make accurate predictions and 53% say they would have confidence in AI technologies completing day-to-day tasks more effectively.

Matthew Syed, Journalist and Author, said: “Building trust takes time and effort, but it also helps if you care. Businesses can benefit in both huge and more subtle ways by building trust into everything they do, not least deploying new technologies. Trust isn't just about delivering a good and reliable product or service, but going the extra mile to ensure that customers feel connected to employees, brand and business.”

How does the trust gap differ per industry or sector?

This divide also varies greatly when looking across industries. The Trust Gap in healthcare, for example, is 14 points. That’s worse than retail, technology and public services, and almost four times wider than that of professional services. It seems that typically-B2B businesses like construction and professional services foster a more trustworthy relationship because they have clear contract terms that promise results, which helps explain why their trust gap is so much narrower than other sectors.

How do ‘Fit for the Future’ businesses measure up?

Vodafone tracks a cohort of businesses described as “Fit for the Future.” These firms are almost three times more likely to align with customers on the importance of shared values, humanity and consistency. On top of being more aligned with these customer priorities, “Fit for the Future” organisations are already using technology to improve response times, manage data safely and deliver information to customers in a faster, more reliable way. Previous reports have shown that Fit for the Future Businesses are more commercially successful and have higher ESG scores.

Learn more:

Notes to editors


Quantitative research was conducted by B2B International in collaboration with the London School of Economics, commissioned by Vodafone Business. The study surveyed 2359 businesses and 5289 individual customers across 10 markets and 11 key sectors of the economy.

To create Trust Scores for businesses and industries, the study asked research participants to give organisations a rating on a 1 – 5 scale, according to how much they agreed or disagreed with four statements within each of the three pillars within a definition of Trust. Businesses were asked to give themselves a score on these measures, according to how they thought customers would rank them.

Please visit the methodology section of the report for more information.

About Fit for the Future

In 2020, Vodafone Business set out to discover which businesses are prepared for the future, what they’re doing differently to other businesses, how they approach different challenges and how they fared during the pandemic. We conducted qualitative and quantitative research across 10 markets globally in 2019 and 2020. We found there were six characteristics that correlated most clearly with businesses – we called these businesses ‘Fit for the Future’ (FFTF).

FFTF businesses are more confident in their ability to use technology, quicker to respond to upcoming trends and faster to market than their competitors, and this includes monitoring their carbon footprint. We continue to track FFTF businesses in our studies to see how they fare to potential issues or scenarios compared to those who may not be as prepared.

In the 2021 report, we partnered with the London School of Economics to understand whether being Fit for the Future affected company performance. The report revealed a close correlation between being Fit for the Future and commercial performance. Even after controlling for factors such as company size, location and sector, financial performance relative to competitors is greater when firms score higher in terms of their Fit for Future score. Similarly, being Fit for the Future is associated with higher ESG scores.

About Vodafone

Vodafone is a leading European and African telecoms company. We provide mobile and fixed services to over 330 million customers in 15 countries (excludes Italy which is held as a discontinued operation under Vodafone Group), partner with mobile networks in 45 more and have one of the world’s largest IoT platforms. In Africa, our financial technology businesses serve almost 79 million customers across seven countries – managing more transactions than any other provider.

Our purpose is to connect for a better future by using technology to improve lives, businesses and help progress inclusive sustainable societies. We are committed to reducing our environmental impact to reach net zero emissions by 2040.

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

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