Social media, ecommerce, mobile, browser tracking; technology has given us a hundred new ways to collect personal data and a 1,000 new data points to collect. As consumers, all of this data collection means faster customer service and a more personal experience but not everyone is interested in the trade-off. A new survey from Accenture shows that 67% of consumers are doing all they can to block the free data flow and protect their privacy. It’s not that they don’t want you to have their credit card number and shopping history — they just don’t trust you to keep that information to yourself.
And why should they? The ID Theft Center says that in 2015, more than 169,068,506 personal records were compromised nearly tying the record high in 2014.
Your company could be incredibly diligent when it comes to data protection but that won’t matter one bit if customers don’t trust you. More than half of the people Accenture surveyed said companies aren’t doing enough to protect their data and again, they’re right.
Look at this chart from Accenture:
Everyone agrees that companies have to take steps to protect their own reputations in regard to the protection of consumer data. But only a fraction of those concerned corporate citizens are taking any action to fix the situation.
81% say it’s important to give customers the power to control their own data but only 55% have a plan to make it happen. 72% thought they could improve the situation by giving customer more in return for their data but only 50% are following through on the concept.
Is it possible that the discrepancy is due to a lack of knowledge, rather than a stubborn wish to keep things as they are? Could it be that the business community is still trying to figure out how to keep data secure and how to give consumers more control? Possibly, but that doesn’t explain the 20% who know transparency is important but have no plans to spell out their data usage and sharing in language their customers can understand.
Misuse of personal data, real or perceived, is the fastest way to ruin a company’s reputation. Even if no harm comes to the consumer, just knowing that the possibility existed is enough to turn a loyal customer into your competitor’s customer.
Don’t be part of the 20%. Be transparent. Upgrade your security. Review data protection protocols with your employees. Show your customers that they can trust you with anything from their shoe size to their medical records. You know it’s important, now you just have to get it done.