How are customers viewing data privacy?

Is there a misconception around how organizations are making use of customer data?
15 February 2019

The era of hyperscale data centers are upon us. Source: Shutterstock

Businesses are undergoing digital transformation at rapid pace, with aims of increasing efficiency and optimizing productivity throughout the organization.

But while the pressure is on to ‘go digital’ across the business, companies now face an equal pressure in the form of customer trust, as more of their data is gathered and stored online. The situation isn’t helped in light of a series of high-profile data breaches and hacks.

According to a recent data privacy report, there seems to be a misconception of how organizations are making use of customer data and how the customers think businesses should use their data.

The report which studied more than 6000 individuals from four countries- France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States, found that in the event of a cyberattack, most of the customers tended to put the blame squarely on the companies, above even the hacker.

About half of the respondents meanwhile, feel that there are any which way businesses can use their data ethically.

Here are some of the customer expectation that businesses should be aware of based on the result of the study:

# 1 | Its all about the context

Consumers are aware that they leave behind a significant amount of digital trail and create vast amounts of data, but not all data is viewed the same way.

The respondents are generally most protective of data that could be used for identity theft or to commit fraud. About 78 percent of them are most concerned about their financial and banking data, followed by security (75 percent), identity  (70 percent), and medical (61 percent) information.

Businesses, therefore, must consider the context of consumer data when implementing data security measures and policies.

# 2 | It depends on the culture

Consumers living in different part of the world are affected differently by privacy policies. For example, EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) applies to companies operating in the EU.

The change and variation in the data privacy policies are due to the cultural factors, current events and reactions to high profile hacks and data breaches.

Global businesses with operations that are spread throughout have to consider data protection measures that comply with all the different regulations as well as cultural sensitivities.

# 3 | Not quite personalized

Businesses often talk about using personal data to offer personalized services to consumers that can potentially drive up revenue.

However, consumers do not find that their that their data helps companies to provide them with custom made services to fit their need, according to the survey. Only 29 percent of the respondents felt otherwise.

And thus, businesses have to do better in engaging with their customer or target audience in communicating how the data is being obtained and how they are used to improve the customer experience.

Transparent engagement will improve both trusts, as well as help to develop more a service that consumer would appreciate and feel incentivized to share more data.

So, in a nutshell, businesses have to make protecting customer data as one of top business priority, and failure to do so might result in loss of consumer trust, which could be very difficult for companies to recover from.