Sharing Your Data for Offers? Be Careful
How serious are you about your privacy? Theoretically, a lot! Practically in the digital world? This question seems to be running the rounds of scepticism and ambivalence.
According to a report by Merkle, the leading technology-enabled, data-driven customer experience management company, 86% of customers are more likely to trade their personal data to enjoy personalized offers, that are based on their interests and browsing or purchase history.
Merkle’s Q1-2022 Customer engagement report (CER) historically reported the marketing leader’s perception, only this time it focussed on customers. It lay bare the sentiments of consumers around data collection and privacy concerns while exploring their viewpoint on updates and regulations.
The customer experience management company surveyed 2000 consumers to get insights into the amount and bandwidth of data the consumers are willing to share at the expense of their privacy. What they found was a staggering figure on the customer’s true insistence and inclination on the evolving data privacy policies and how they perceive it. With 86% of people ready to trade their personal data, the survey, clearly one-sided revealed the willingness of consumers' sentiments to align with contextual and connected experiences, benefiting big business giants.
Adding to the dramatic survey results, the global CEO at Merkle, Michael Komansinski said that their studies reflect on the increasing customer awareness about what personal information they are trading with brands in exchange for personalized information. Customers today have a heightened sense of awareness and brands need to amp their strategies on customer experience so they add more value to the customer journey in exchange for their personal data.
Have consumer privacy concerns changed over the last decade?
Data security and personal data privacy consistently drive the uncertainty ride of consumer behaviour on different brand web pages. This argumentative concern is still ripe with a multitude of popular and revered businesses, inclining towards consenting consumer information in exchange for personalized data.
However, statistics of the likes of IdentifyForce which highlighted in their report that the credentials of 500,000 Zoom teleconferencing accounts were found on sale on the dark web on 14th April 2020, cripple the customer’s trust in jerk a setback on the reliability of consumer data handing by businesses.
This privacy encroachment by brands and the absolute complacent behaviour of consumers tends to take a steep uphill with the advancement in technology. As more and more products become the common and higher state of privacy reality uncovers, consumers’ concerns and expectations over their data privacy rises further. This concern can also be contributed to the emerging cybersecurity risks that occupy headlines such as Amazon scam emails, cryptocurrency scams, etc. Everyday news of sophisticated hackers penetrating the most cutting-edge systems take headlines and raises the question of how safe is a consumer's personal data with the brand.
Despite the questioning and raising eyebrows on security concerns, the consumer would somehow agree to the terms and conditions that underlines the trade of data for an enhanced consumer experience. However, what goes in the web-hole of a brand’s compliance to consumer data safety is neither addressed by the brand nor raised by the consumer.
In fact, for most people, the level of concern for privacy while browsing might decrease instead of only going upwards, hence offering brands an opportunity to build consumer trust.
However, there is a thin line between collecting in the name of personalized experience and claiming to maintain its security, where actual security measures sometimes take a backseat.
What can companies do to reassure consumers?
People talking in their friend circle, at office parties, at table discussions or at family get-togethers, will highlight how important data security is to them, lecturing others to maintain their distance from brands that are infamous for stealing personal data, and that goes to the high-profile social media giants too. However, the same majority of people, if not all will consistently rave on the same infamous social media giants, willing to provide their personal information without must questioning.
This might happen due to less awareness, understandable of how big brands keep the consumers busy by personalizing their experience, while they collect massive amounts of data. Most populations even side-line themselves into knowing what goes in, after the data is collected, choosing to keep themselves in oblivion.
While the brands take entire personal data from forms, browsing history, chats, phone calls to customer care, navigation information etc, it also becomes their responsibility to maintain secrecy with the data to reassure customers. Here is how they can do it:
- Must remain transparent about how the brands intend to use the consumer data.
- They must allow consumers to have a choice and easily opt out of data sharing.
- They can make it simple and easy for customers to choose what they wish to share or do not share.
- Brands must offer value-adding benefits to those customers who are willing to share their data.
- They should customize the company’s data-gathering strategy into different age-group segments.
While the statistics are inclined towards the drift of younger generations at the vulnerability of sharing personal data and not worrying too much about data privacy, the mature consumer base still maintains some distance and awareness on how the data would be used or in some cases misused.
In both cases, data privacy must not become less of a security concern for organizations, and should not be touted as an evolving market for the younger generation, easy to be swayed. On the contrary, brands need to address the concern more than ever with more stringent rules and policies that cannot be circumvented, especially for critical operations such as financial data, transactions etc. This will cement a robust relationship between brand and customer and lead to a harmonious journey.
One of the best ways brands can build consumer trust is by devising a proactive data security measure where customer engagement is transparent and resonates with the consumer’s expectations.