Does Your Privacy Strategy Build Trust?

Not only is it over a year since GDPR came into force, but it is also twenty years since Seth Godin’s book Permission Marketing introduced the concept of marketing with consumer consent in a pre-GDPR world.

Godin was well ahead of his time. As firms sought to differentiate through personalisation, the use and abuse of personal data was arguably out of hand in the years directly preceding GDPR. And, even with GDPR now in place, consumer mistrust continues today. In Privitar software’s recent study, only 21 percent of consumers trust social media companies to protect their data and roughly three-quarters (74 percent) disagree with industries’ claim on transparency in the use of data.

GDPR was brought in to ensure a lawful basis of personal data processing and consumer rights, yet, as consumers, we also want and expect personalised services and seamless experiences enabled by data.  Facing this paradox, organisations can embrace a challenging, yet timely opportunity, to harness secure and compliant data practices as a tool for improved customer experience.

Across the EU, the majority of GDPR complaints are about telemarketing and promoted emails. But even if we may have given consent, or there is a clear legitimate interest, we tend to react poorly if insight is presented in ways that make us feel spied upon. This seems to be Interruption Marketing at its worst, and recalls Godin’s three tenets of permission-based marketing:

  1. Anticipated: do people anticipate the service/product information from the company?
  2. Personal: does the marketing information explicitly relate to the customer?
  3. Relevant: is the marketing information something that the consumer is interested in?

As a large UK insurer found, helping customers get a quote for house insurance by using details from property sale sites (with floorplans, photos, and specifications), spooked prospects by a lack of transparency and so the data insight was not anticipated. The reaction also shows that how we define permission is not just about legal compliance – firms need to design trust into their customer interactions and processes.

This becomes imperative as a backlash to privacy concerns, against Google and Facebook in particular, stirs consumers to take control of their data and who is allowed to share it. Eighty-one percent of consumers in the Privitar research said they would like more control over when they choose to share their personal data with businesses.

So, how can business harmonise data gathering and processing for mutual benefit with customers?

  1. Leaders can get started through repeated consent and by showing use cases for consumer data – satisfying the anticipated/personal/relevant value exchange criteria Godin puts forward. This could demonstrate frictionless service in relation to application processes; mid-term changes and renewals, and more.
  2. For businesses to really make “Trust by Design” sustainable, they must align their data proposition and operational capability. Empowering customers encourages them to buy (rather than being sold to), potentially reducing acquisition costs, retaining business, and creating incremental value.
  3. When determining investments in data privacy, many companies struggle to pinpoint the experience-related initiatives that also drive sustainable business growth. Organisations can take an approach that quantifies the intersection of business objectives and customer needs , helping them prioritise activities that drive the greatest return and positive impact to the experience. This means that the Trust by Design framework you need is complemented by Experience EconomicsSM, a CX investment playbook that works to put the customer in control but with a clear financial analysis to support the business cases.
  4. With the EU and other countries promoting new regulations and more consumer education on data, and as technology advances create personal browsers and data sharing mechanisms, a robust trust-centric framework is critical to driving business growth, protecting valuable psychological permissions and, ultimately, differentiating on compelling experiences.