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In Exchange for Sharing Data, Customers Expect a Personalized Experience – Not Irrelevance

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Read more about author John Nash.

Consumers regularly receive information that is irrelevant to their current interests or situation – and they’re none too pleased. According to a recent survey commissioned by my company, 70% of consumers surveyed said they receive mistargeted information at least once a month, and 24% say they receive mistargeted information, such as inaccurate promotional emails or irrelevant product recommendations, daily. That steady drumbeat of irrelevant information comes with a price for brands trying to provide customers with a personalized experience.

More than half (51%) of survey respondents said that being on the receiving end of mistargeted communications negatively impacts their overall customer experience (CX) with a brand, and 52% said they expect less friction. 

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Brands, in other words, should know enough about them as consumers – likes, preferences, behaviors, buying intent – that there shouldn’t be any reason for irrelevant information. One reason for the disconnect is that consumers know they consistently provide data with every interaction – every transaction, every online session, every return, etc. – and there is an expectation that brands use this data to improve the customer experience moving forward. 

Consumers realize the value of their personal data, and in return for sharing it they expect commensurate value in exchange in the form of a highly relevant, personalized experience across channels. In the survey, 59% of consumers said they will share more data with a brand in exchange for discounts, offers, or perks. By the same token, 73% said that they either “rarely” or “never” provide data without a firm understanding of how it will be used. 

For brands that violate a tacit understanding that consumer data will be used to enhance the overall CX, there are consequences. Nearly half of consumers surveyed (48%) said that they would stop doing business with a brand that shares their data with a third party without their consent, and 31% said they would take steps to share less data, such as completing a check-out as a guest rather than logging in.

When asked how brands can enhance trust with a consumer, the No. 1 way to forge trust (cited by 54% of those surveyed) was for a brand to easily allow the consumer to delete any data that has been provided. Another 48% said that brands can foster trust by being transparent about any data leaks.

One lesson learned from the survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers is that today’s consumers are keenly aware of the value of data privacy and personal data, particularly first-party data that they share every time they interact with a brand. The expectation is that it will be used in return for a more personalized experience. 

Brands that engage in this value exchange demonstrate to a customer that they value the relationship outside of a transactional basis. It’s less about selling a product than it is showing the customer that the brand understands the customer on an individual basis. A personalized experience reflects this personal understanding, which enhances trust and results in increased loyalty, lifetime value, greater retention, and other positive outcomes.

With higher levels of trust, consumers share more data, which leads to even more enhanced personalization, and the cycle continues. The better the data, the better the personalized experience a brand delivers, and the better the outcome – for both the brand and the consumer.

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