The telecommunications industry in Australia has become the most distrusted sector, overtaking social media for the first time, as per the recent report by Roy Morgan. Data breaches, inadequate response to natural disasters, and concerns over data security contributed to the industry’s poor rating. The Optus data breach in September played a significant role in the surge of distrust, resulting in the company becoming the second most distrusted brand in the Australian economy. Telstra is now the third most distrusted brand. The report highlights how data breaches have a real impact on a brand’s distrust levels.

According to the survey, the travel and tourism industry and the insurance industry also fell in the rankings. The report showed how high levels of distrust in Medibank contributed to the decline in the insurance industry’s net trust rankings. Similarly, customer dissatisfaction led to a heightened distrust of Qantas, resulting in the travel and tourism industry falling from 10th to 13th position in the rankings.

Aussie Broadband is one of the few brands in the telecommunications industry defying the trend and ranking as the most trusted telco in Australia at 26th position among all Australian brands. However, the report also highlights how the industry globally lacks a strong rapport with customers, and the NBN debacle in Australia has only exacerbated the problem, creating doubts about the industry’s direction and control.

Associate professor at RMIT University, Mark Gregory, pointed out that the industry’s decline in trust stems from telcos’ inability to prioritize customers’ needs, especially during natural disasters and price hikes. He further raised concerns over data security, saying that people do not believe that security has been taken seriously, and the penalties for data breaches remain too low.

Roy Morgan CEO, Michele Levine, warns that brands need to be aware of the dangers that distrust presents after major scandals, as it makes a brand fragile and is a powerful driver in the decisions consumers make. She added that risk assessments and procedures by executives and company directors across all industries need to formally factor in distrust, and it should be on the risk register of every board in Australia.

In conclusion, the telecommunications industry’s most distrusted sector should serve as a wake-up call for the industry to prioritize customers’ needs, data security, and respond adequately to natural disasters. As the report shows, high distrust in any industry’s key players opens the door for trusted brands to take market share.

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