Is privacy the new customer experience grail?

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When interacting with businesses, most customers expect nothing less than a great experience. They want a personal touch, without having to repeat themselves. They want their needs to be anticipated. 72% of consumers expect companies to know their purchase history regardless of the method of communication.

To be able to give them a “personal touch”, businesses need to gather data about their customers: history, preferences, past interactions. Yet, the series of data breaches or other dubious terms and conditions have left consumers wary of the ways our data is handled, with only 6% trusting businesses to use data responsibly.

As awareness grew around the (mis)use of data, customers sought to regain their voice – and control their personal information. 

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The results of this sentiment can be seen globally with the multiplicity of private data regulations, which have recently burgeoned, and culminated with the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – arguably the most talked about regulation of the year and the most stringent and financially coercive text existing.

GDPR ultimately calls for a change of approach and methodology, urging organisations to be more transparent and put “privacy” at the top of their data governance practices.

For many organisations, this paradigm shift is more about losing their databases and trying to find the right solution to continue gathering information, while being compliant. Solutions that enable organizations to take the right steps in a timely fashion towards data privacy are available, however, the contact centre industry is still pondering on the best way forward.

As reflected in a recent survey: only 11% of organisations polled feel ready for GDPR. And here is perhaps the most important requirement of the GDPR: to be in a continuous process of improvement with regards to how and why private data is being gathered.

Trust is the new CX differentiator

Building trust is an ongoing task. One that requires organisations to be more transparent and more accountable with their customers’ data. Eventually, offering better privacy will be a gauge of trust and can be the next competitive differentiator.

As all organisations seek to offer a “seamless experience”, they will need to move away from a big data approach to a smart data state of mind; and abandon their “tick the box” attitude towards compliance, to address it in a more holistic manner – from the IT team to the agents and the back office. Everyone is concerned. In fact, even organisations outsourcing their data management to the cloud are still responsible and should know at any given time where their data is. 

Invest in understanding the customer

With the recent rollout of GDPR, organisations were required to get explicit consent from customers about whether or not they wanted their data to be stored and used. This might seem like a tedious process but knowing that customers have given informed consent to the use of their data can also be very empowering. It shows that a first step has been taken towards engagement. Having the customer in such a good disposition enables you to nurture a more trusting relationship.

This explicit consent also means organisations can streamline how they gather data – focusing on what they need and have consent for rather than just capturing as much as possible. Managing the data deluge should be easier and organisations shouldn’t have to worry about where to start and what to do.

Making the most of the opportunity

Customers give their consent with the expectation that the data gathered will be used in their favour and only in their favour. Organizations therefore have a dual responsibility. First, they must make use of the data in a way that benefits their customers, i.e. in improving their customer experience and protecting their customers from fraud. If they fail to do so, and simply hoard the data or use it for internal processes, then customers will eventually withdraw their consent. Second, organizations must not use the data in ways that do not directly benefit their customers, which as such will eventually lead to a withdrawal of consent. 

Respecting customers’ data demands isn’t just about compliance. If well handled, it can set organisations up for ongoing growth and customer loyalty. 

Finding that right balance is not always easy but by treating the process as a customer experience opportunity, rather than a box-ticking exercise, organisations can set themselves up for continued success.

Positioning your organisation as one that is committed to delivering an excellent experience for customers will make it easier for customers to develop the trust that deepens loyalty. In an age where customers want organisations to deliver more with less, respecting these new demands could make it easier than ever to deliver the excellent experience that customers want.

Eran Liron, CMO at NICE Ltd