Who do you trust with your personal data? - Business Works
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Who do you trust with your personal data?

Phil Hutchinson, Pitney Bowes The majority of Brits are extremely unwilling to trust any third party with their personal data. Around a third of the population (31%) say they are unwilling to share personal data, such as age and address with any third party at all and only four in ten (42%) say they trust their doctor / health service with their private information according to a research project by Pitney Bowes.

This may be in response to businesses deluging customers with data requests and adopting an over-familiar tone in communications, warns Phil Hutchison, Marketing Director at Pitney Bowes. "Statistics show that even the most basic form of personalisation substantially increases response rates, it’s not surprising that marketers are hungry for more and more personal data. There is an opportunity, but only for those companies which get communication right."

In an effort to create and successfully market more personalised products and services many organisations may have over-stepped the mark leading to a lack of consumer trust. Establishing a barometer of consumer willingness – and unwillingness – to share personal information is critical for businesses who strive for maximum return from their investment in multi-channel communications.

Banks are the second most trusted organisation, but still only get a vote of confidence from 36% of Brits. Consumers have marginally more trust in Government than online retailers (30% and 27% respectively) and the least trusted organisations are fitness centers (13%). Surprisingly, given the importance of customer data to this sector, retail loyalty programmes garner little trust as well with a mere 15%.

Phil advises UK businesses to be wary of a one-size fits-all approach to data management and to follow best practice guidelines. "If this trend of trust erosion continues, it will become counter-productive for all. We can already see that 38% of people are unwilling to share their address with online retailers."

The survey shows that there is a clear line between what is seen as personal data and what is ‘private information’. It is the minority of respondents who are unwilling to give basic transactional data details, such as date of birth (10%), postal address (13%) or email (14%). However, the trust line is crossed when these consumers are asked about private issues such as their sexual preference (45%), religion (71%), or political persuasion (76%).

"Customers are likely to be wary of agreeing to information requests that they don’t understand. If a retail loyalty scheme starts asking you for your height and weight, or a bank asks about your family structure you can only wonder why!"

Phil recommends the following six steps:

  1. Ensure compliance with current data legislation - one slip can undermine or seriously damage your reputation;
  2. Get the basics right (name, address etc) before trying to develop the relationship further;
  3. Be clear about your intention. Say whey you’d like to know more and explain the benefit to your customer;
  4. Understand the limits of your brand. Do customers come to you because you do a simple service well? If so, don’t attempt to create a bigger ‘customer experience’ where it isn’t necessary or valued;
  5. Don’t let data defeat you. Technology and support exists at every business level;
  6. Close the loop on communications. Use what comes back from customers to fuel further conversations and provide payback to customers who’ve given you their data.

Table of Trust

% UK respondents trusting organisation with personal data
Doctor / health service 42% Bank 36%
Local Government 31% Central Government 30%
Online shopping 27% Utility 22%
Retail Loyalty programme 19% Fitness club 16%

% UK respondents willing to share the following type of information with businesses and authorities
Dat of birth 10% Postal address 13%
E-mail 14% Bank details 22%
Home phone 23% Weight 24%
Income 36% Mobile phone 38%
Credit card # 40% Sexual preference 45%
Ethnicity 54% Religion 71%
Political persuasion 76%    

For more inforation on Pitney Bowes, please visit: www.pitneybowes.co.uk

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