Personal data is a prickly topic. Businesses want to get their hands on it, consumers want to keep a hold of it, and many of us – businesses and consumers – are still a bit unsure as to all the rules and regulations surrounding it. Or at least that’s how it seems.
In reality, the picture’s quite different. It seems that consumers are no longer as protective over their data as they once were. According to a global consumer study from Infosys, a staggering 88% of Americans are comfortable sharing their online data with retailers (Source). Over in the UK, that figure’s reported to be 64% – compared with only 5% who are willing to share their personal data with charities (Source). There is a catch though: consumers aren’t willing to give their data away for nothing.
88% OF AMERICANS ARE COMFORTABLE SHARING THEIR ONLINE DATA WITH RETAILERS
Most consumers are only willing to share their personal information if they receive a benefit in exchange, such as a special offer or loyalty points. The business’ credentials are also important to consumers. According to the Data and Privacy Study 2014 from LSE: SDL (Source), 79% of consumers are more likely to provide personal information to what they consider a “trusted brand”. So, what does that mean for retailers?
THE LESSON IS SIMPLE: CONSUMERS ARE MORE WILLING TO ENGAGE WITH BRANDS THEY TRUST.
To earn this trust, retailers must understand their customers’ data concerns and make sure they have the right policies, procedures, and technologies in place to protect their data. Secondly, they must treat data responsibly. That means being transparent about how and when it will be used. This is really important. The LSE: SDL study shows that 76% of consumers are not comfortable with retailers tracking in-store movements via smartphone and Wi-Fi3. That’s because the benefits of tracking behavior and purchases are not communicated as clearly to consumers as much as the benefits of sharing other personal information. So, be transparent – show consumers what they’ll gain. And finally, retailers need to put that added value into practice and improve the customer experience. Whether that’s by creating personalized offers and communications or using data to provide fast, efficient, knowledgeable customer service.
Today, an individualized customer experience isn’t a nice-to-have – it’s a must-have. People don’t want to be treated as just a number in a big group. They don’t want to be subjected to mass, impersonal marketing messages – especially when they’ve given away personal information. To remain competitive, retailers must meet these expectations. The message is to not abuse data – but to use it wisely.