By: Chris Hyde, Global Head of Data Solutions, Validity
Organisations have more access to consumer data now than ever before. Unfortunately, this has meant thatthere is a fine line betweencustomers receiving a satisfactoryexperience andbeing “digitally harassed”. There is a growing epidemic of misinformation about the truth of data, including how it is used, collected, and stored, and its impact.
This lack ofunderstanding has become increasingly apparent throughout the ongoing pandemic, where reliance on technology has surged. An example of this was seen in 2021, when many consumersresponded to WhatsApp’s proposed privacy changes by deleting the app overnight. This is ironic, as the changewas not really a change as such, but something that users had already accepted before.
The Covid-19 tracing app was another story that shocked the nation, with many mistakenly believing that location data was already being shared. Failure to understand “how” and “why” the app used their data, due to a lack of clear information, resulted in many not using it. Misinformation was spread online about how the app tracks users every minute of every day – an unfortunate result for an app that was created to save lives.
Navigating a data minefield
The next hurdle for businesses is shifting to new regulations designed to protect consumer privacy, by requiring users’ explicit permission to share and use data generated by digital interactions. An example of this includes the much-publicised demise of third-party cookies and Apple’s recent announcement to block tracking pixels in its customers’ emails. Technology is paramount for how brands interact and target customers.Essentially, consumers should not have to worry about understanding what a cookie is, let alone whether it is from a third party. They should however understand the social contract they are entering into, have the benefits and risks clearly explained, andfeel informed enough to make their own decisions.
Unfortunately, the average consumer does not understand enough about data and the associated technologies to make an informed decision. This leads to needless viral scaremongering and a mass exodus from brands and platforms. Users and customers need to understand what data they are giving away, while also understanding why. When registering for a website or service, it is clear what information the user is providing when entering it; however, this changes when federated identity is considered and attributes of a user’s identity are shared across distinct systems.
Although it is now a legal requirement for brands to explain what data they intend to collect and for what purpose, it is also widely accepted that barely anyone reads the terms and conditions. As a result, organisations need to assess how their customers view their data collection and use policy, and also understand how a unified view of data can help drive better customer experiences.
Personalisation is key
Prioritising consumer preferences is always going to be key. Unsurprisingly, there are expectations for a seamless service in today’s tech-savvy world. Therefore, obtainingand maintaininga complete image of customers is essential for any company. Therise of Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) and more recently Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs) is a testament to that – the more a brand knows about its customers, the better it will be able to serve them.
Data is often collected based on the what, when and where of a customer’s purchase, or whether the customer is satisfied. For example, if they have not logged any complaints or support tickets, this can be used to target the customer with offers related to the products they have viewed or purchased. Acustomer success manager, who has access to a customer’s orders, purchase history, support tickets, and renewal information through a CDP, is much more effective than one that does not. This results in a great customer experience, in contrast to endless advertisements for a product the customer has already purchased or calls with a customer success manager who does not know the user’s history with the brand.
However, there is an ongoing challengearound how often customer data changes – any system used to capture and manage that data needs constant maintenance. Although Customer Relationship Management systems (CRMs) and CDPs offer integration from many different sources, without constant updating, data can quickly become outdated. This is particularly true in a B2B context, where a unified view of customer data should not necessarily be limited to data held within the organisation. It is not so much about technical integration behind the scenes, as it is about the right processes and tools to manage and capture change such as a job change on LinkedIn, a known customer using a new email address, or a company changing locations. CRM data is deteriorating at an alarming rate and being aware of this is key to delivering a good customer experience.
As technology evolves, real-time predictive analytics can significantly optimise processes. This enables brands to profile, segment, target, and streamline the process of purchase of potential customers. Done right, this creates a good customer experience and minimises overhead costs. Companies need to be aware that, if done poorly, it can seriously damage a brand’s reputation. Any process that involves analysis depends fundamentally on the quality of the data on which it is built. If the need to get clean, consistent, and accurate data into the model is prioritised, all parties will benefit.