The Intersection of Customer Experience and Privacy

by Sonia Perugini

Today someone can replace worn out gym socks with a 6-pack of new, cushy ones that will ship for free and arrive at the doorstep in near 24 hours - all from a simple click.

But what is a customer willing to pay for that convenience?

In this increasingly fast-paced world, convenience rules. Customers expect purchasing experiences to be fluid and friendly. If it comes at a fair price, even better. Consumers trust companies like Amazon, Apple, Uber, and even some with lesser corporate profiles, to keep credit card information on file to ensure every transaction is quick and convenient. Consumer comfort in making purchases from these companies as trusted brands is frequent enough to justify the necessity of convenience.

That’s why protecting a customer’s personal boundaries is at the forefront of everyday decision making.

The ever increasing cyber criminal threats to steal an identity, hack into bank accounts or the incessant robo-calling to “save someone from an ‘IRS’ audit” audit” scam, it’s no wonder consumers can’t trust much of anything online.

Click on that email link? Pick up that call? Behaviors that are usually basic reflexes now require a second guess.

But is privacy so much a priority that consumers would sacrifice convenience?

That depends.

Data breaches still occur on a regular basis with trusted entities known to be the most secure in the world (i.e., Equifax, further proving that risk still exists. .

The solution is not to eliminate smartphones, PCs or tablets. And convenience does not have to come at the cost of privacy.

In fact, there are an exhaustive number of resources that will cover all personal data. Applying some of these tips will protect consumers when paying a bill online or sharing a photo.

A future service that may help bridge the divide between customer experience and privacy is  the Personal Information Management System (PIMS).

PIMS would act as an intermediary service to store a consumer’s personal data and allow a person  to determine what data to share with companies. Users would be able to easily turn on and off the data they share with different companies to enable a more transparent relationship on the customer’s terms. This would also inhibit organizations like Google and Facebook from monetizing user profiles through internal use or by sale to third parties without explicit consent.

The increasing concerns about data sharing, and with consumers taking more defensive actions, the onus is on companies to offer a value proposition that keeps consumers happy and willing to share their personal data. Netflix, for example, uses aggregated customer data to improve the user experience through product recommendations. Similarly, banks compile financial information and provide insights back to consumers to help them make better decisions and protect against fraudulent charges. Energy companies also use and share data to help consumers be more efficient, save money, and increase awareness  of environmental impacts.

So, how complicated is all this going to get?

Most people want convenience and to feel good about the products and services they buy. Expect value. Demand trust.

Is it rocket science? At times, it can feel like it, but, actually, its not.

If customer data is the asset, companies will need to invest in a seamless customer experience that builds their brands reputation  to facilitate customer data sharing.  Nothing in life is free.  This means there must be something in it for the consumer to surrender their personal information for: perhaps exceptional service delivery, rewards, upgrades, lower prices or one-of-a-kind products would do the trick –.

Make it worth their while.

There are a lot of socks out there that need replacing.