Confidence Is Very Profitable, Don’t You Think?

Beth Cox

Updated · Feb 08, 2001

Remember that Jack Palance television commercial from a few years back, in
which he intones in a dulcet voice: “Confidence is very sexy!”? The
e-commerce version apparently is that “confidence is very profitable,” at
least according to a recent industry research report.

In fact, the report from Gartner Group’s cPulse operation (which calls itself the
Internet Satisfaction Monitor) says that the success of Web commerce sites is
directly linked to the confidence customers feel about their privacy and

According to the report, nearly 65 percent of customers surveyed replied that
they “always” or “sometimes” read privacy statements. Yet 89 percent of
customers surveyed were not comfortable providing credit card information
online and 49 percent were not comfortable with the overall issue of online

Hmm. I guess I feel much the same way, although I don’t claim to study
privacy policies at shopping sites. Yes, I know, silly me, but I suspect it’s
a practice for anal-retentives only.

Something makes me suspect that of the nearly 65 percent of the folks who
claim to read privacy statements, many are probably just saying what they
think is the right thing to do to appear to be a smart online shopper. It’s
probably kind of like all those folks who swear up and down they read the
editorial page of their local newspaper every day, rain or shine or kids’
soccer practice not withstanding.

Uh huh. Right.

The last time I tried to read an Internet privacy policy, it was the one at, and the effort was something akin to wading through the
unabridged version of Moby Dick.

For starters, it was the absolute last link at the very bottom of the home
page. Then you find that it contains language like this:

“If you choose to visit, your visit and any dispute over privacy
is subject to this Notice and our Conditions of Use, including limitations on
damages, arbitration of disputes, and application of the law of the state of
Washington. If you have any concern about privacy at, please send
us a thorough description to [email protected], and we will try to resolve it.
Our business changes constantly. This Notice and the Conditions of Use will
change also, and use of information that we gather now is subject to the
Privacy Notice in effect at the time of use. We may e-mail periodic reminders
of our notices and conditions, unless you have instructed us not to, but you
should check our Web site frequently to see recent changes.”

The next time I can’t sleep, I’m going back there.

Anyway, cPulse said it found that customer satisfaction was also clearly
influenced by the ability to bypass electronic solicitation. Almost 60
percent of all participants were “extremely likely” to return to sites that
allowed them to decline receiving e-mail
advertisements and nearly half felt “extremely satisfied” with a site’s
privacy based on this option.

Makes sense to me. I don’t know how many eCRM databases I’m in, but it seems
like hundreds — more than I have the energy to try to track down and get
myself out of. Poor me, I just delete them.

“Customer anxiety on the Web remains a real issue,” said Eric Rudich, a
research analyst at cPulse. “Our research indicates commerce sites need to
communicate more clearly to customers that they offer a secure environment
and have such precautions as firewalls.”

According to cPulse analysts, site approval programs and privacy seals
(things like Verisign and TRUSTe) have a significant impact on how customers
feel about a site’s privacy and security.

“Web commerce sites that are looking for ways to boost their brand and their
sales should revisit approval programs and seals,” said cPulse executive vice
president Jody Dodson. “Building consumer confidence via visible and de

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  • Beth Cox
    Beth Cox

    Beth Cox has been a well-known keynote speaker and author as well as a business and technology advisor. She helps companies improve their business performance, better utilize data, and understands the implications of new technologies, such as (AI)artificial intelligence, big data, blockchains and the Internet of Things.

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