Thursday, May 23, 2013
Do You Think Your Customers Don't Know You Are Watching Them?
The book 1984 brings to mind the concern that big Brother is watching you. The Radicatti Group recently published the results of the study that shows that as much as 83% of all e-mail traffic is spam. Customers are wary of sharing their e-mail addresses and personal information for fear that information will be used for purposes other than their benefit.
There is an anxiety in the marketplace that companies are being too invasive with respect to their customers. With this comes the assumption that collecting data from the customers invades their privacy. The underlying customer assumption that many companies make is customers lack a faith in believing that the information gathered by the company is for their benefit. This assumption may no longer be true.
If 21st century companies do not understand that customers already know that they are watching them and accruing information about them, they are either naïve or don’t care. In fact, there is a cultural shift with customers that is slowly taking place. Many customers no longer see data collection as being inherently invasive; rather customers are beginning to understand that the data they provide has the potential to reduce costs (and prices) and improve services.
The key gradients to move customers from not trusting the company to use their data are: (1) trust and (2) communication. In other words, 21st-century companies need to focus on communication with the customers so they can build a strong relationship and understanding of how the information will be used. This only occurs when there is trust between the company and the customer.
One point that companies overlook is that they are asking for something of value from their customers (information about the customer) without “paying” them for it. In this sense “paying” the customer means giving the customers something of value in return for the valuable information that they have just given the company.
The bottom line is customer data has value to the company and the company should be willing to return value directly to their customers for that data. Customers in 21st-century are wise enough to know that you as a company are watching them and capturing data about them. When you communicate with your customers and show them that the information they share with you will be used to improve the quality of your products and services, they will be able to see and appreciate why it is important for them to provide that data. The next step is to return something of value to your customers.
Trust is required by the company so that customers will provide accurate information. Trust is also required by the customers that the information that they share is for the sole benefit of the company to improve the level of product quality and service. We can only hope that the company and their customers will honor that trust.