Data governance is seldom a top-of-mind factor for consumers when it comes to customer relationships - until something goes wrong, that is. Brands ignore the proper handling of data at their peril. And research backs this up.
Studies by Transactis have shown that customers assume that their data is being handled in a careful and intelligent way if they receive good service and sensible messages from a company. As long as communications are properly addressed and relevant, consumers are confident that a company is protecting their data and making sound use of it.
That confidence can disappear in an instant, however, if the wrong order comes or a delivery goes to the wrong place or they start to receive unexpected and badly-targeted messages. Or, in the worst-case scenario, they find that careless data handling has resulted in fraud.
A new Transactis survey of 1,000 UK consumers reveals that more than nine out of ten say they are likely to move to a competitor if they feel a company is being irresponsible with their personal details (getting them wrong, passing them to third parties, not keeping them secure, etc). What’s more, research released last year shows that 92 per cent of UK consumers believe that only a company that is capable of safeguarding their information and using that data to create real value can deliver genuine customer satisfaction.
But until a company hits a big bump in the road with its data handling, consumers are generally happy to leave a firm to get on with its business and to hold personal information on them - as long as it conducts the rest of its business in an efficient and professional manner. Of course, companies need to obtain permission and tell people how they will use their data when initially asking for it. But as long as a firm takes care of customers’ data and uses it to deal and communicate with them more effectively, consumers usually don’t want to know the details about how it is being handled - they just want to enjoy the results.
The 2011 Transactis survey highlights this attitude, with nearly 90 per cent saying that if they are getting a good service and relevant communications from a company, then they assume that it is looking after their data properly. Continued negative experiences, however, lead them to become suspicious of how their data is being used and taken care of, and less comfortable entrusting it to a business.
When companies fail to acknowledge that they already hold a customer’s personal data and keep asking for it, they arouse suspicions - 80 per cent of consumers admit that they would not believe a company is looking after their data properly if they were asked for personal details whcih they had already provided.
Nonetheless, firms that use data to tailor their messages and deliver welcomed benefits to their customers will find that consumers become confident about revealing even more information. The survey shows that 81 per cent of respondents say they are happy to hand over selected additional information to companies if they use the data they hold to deliver relevant discounts, special offers and loyalty bonuses.
Taken together, the results demonstrate clearly that the effective management and use of consumer data is a vital part of any company’s efforts to communicate with its customers and to deliver the products and the overall service that they want. Thus, using data effectively and demonstrating the capability to do so to consumers is essential to achieving true customer satisfaction and trust.