Nearly one third of consumers expect the companies they engage with to know more about them, according to a survey of 25,000 consumers globally, including 1,800 in the UK. Furthermore, the Global Consumer Pulse Research by Accenture Strategy found that 73% of CEOs acknowledge the need for products, services and experiences that are more meaningful to their customers.
Accenture calls this “hyper-relevance”. While two-thirds of consumers are willing to share personal information with companies, which will make those companies “hyper-relevant,” they will only do so if there is a perceived value exchange.
Rachel Barton, a managing director at Accenture Strategy who leads its advanced customer strategy unit, said that over the 12 years that the survey has been carried out, she has seen a positive correlation between the amount of data consumers are willing to share and their expectations of the company they are sharing it with. She said that consumers are essentially saying: “If you ask for more information about me, then I expect you to know more about me and I expect you to deliver a much more relevant and personalised service to me.”
"The more transparent companies are about data use, the higher the trust they build."
Many consumers have no qualms about ditching companies that do not provide a product or service that is sufficiently personalised, with 38% of UK respondents having done so. This ditching and switching by consumers in the UK last year alone amounted to £77 billion being lost by UK organisations.
Barton added that she has noticed a correlation between how transparent companies are with their customers’ data and the way they use it, and the digital trust they create. In other words, companies that are more transparent about their data use have higher levels of digital trust among consumers. She defined digital trust as the brokering of a “fair and equitable, transparent relationship over digital media.”
This is borne out by the fact that 58% of consumers would switch half or more of their spending to a provider that excels at personalising experiences without compromising trust. Barton also said that companies will have to face the conundrum of how much data they ask for - and the increased expectations of personalisation that comes with it - as well as what they intend to do with the data and how they will create digital trust so that the customer continues to give them data.
This is essential as a lack of trust is an obstacle to customer satisfaction - 73% said not being able to trust a company with the personal information that’s been provided is a top source of frustration.
"We are each going to take different speeds to become comfortable with data sharing."
Barton acknowledged that, while some consumers would be happy to give highly-intimate, personal behavioural data to an organisation, that could potentially pose a security risk if it fell into the wrong hands, others are simply not in that place. “We are each going to take different speeds to become comfortable with sharing that kind of data, and some of us may never get there,” says Barton.
Privacy was a high priority for respondents with 87% believing it is important for companies to safeguard their information. This is despite the incoming GDPR not being well-known or understood by the general consumer, as it is not yet affecting or restricting their behaviour or that of organisations, according to Barton.
She said: “If GDPR makes it more obvious which organisation takes consumers’ data seriously or not, I think it will come into the consumer’s decision-making process.”
Her parting piece of advice for companies when it comes to using customer data to personalise its products and services is that it is all about context. She said: “Fundamentally, an organisation should look at the customer base it serves. It should personalise and create relevance with that customer base in the way that delivers the greatest ROI from that relationship.”