From cars to electricity meters, a whole range of previously dumb machines are now smart enough to talk to each other. This is bringing about a fundamental change to both the amount and the type of data that organisations can access about their customers. The information flow, however, is not just one way. These customers also have access to more information about the products and services they use and they can share their good and bad experiences with each other much more easily.
This presents real opportunities for organisations to improve and develop products and services and communicate more effectively with their customers. It also creates a real challenge in ensuring customers trust the way an organisation is managing their data.
As Facebook discovered when it changed its privacy settings to allow others more access to profiles, this is a very sensitive subject. It resulted major media and user criticism, alongside formal complaints from regulators. Google has faced a similar backlash with its Streetview programme, with protests from residents and, in some countries, camera cars having been banned. This underlines that even companies that have been the pioneers of new technology, and have data management at the heart of their business, sometimes struggle to get the right approach to privacy.
Managing data well means organisations need to take clear action to build trust with their customers. The first step in doing this is to allow the customer to choose what personal data can be used and how it can be used. This has to be done in a clear and customer-friendly way. Again Facebook shows the pitfalls of getting this wrong. It claimed that it had clear, easy-to-use ways of managing privacy. However commentators highlighted that it had 170 privacy settings with 50 options and that customers found the process difficult and complex.
The second step in building trust is to help customers gain advantages from the organisation holding their data. For example, supermarkets hold data online about products a customer regularly buys and can use that data to save time when the customer next places an order. Successful companies will be those that can ensure customers benefit from the fact that the organisation knows more about their preferences. Yet it is clear that this approach will only be acceptable if it is underpinned by clear processes and a commitment to work with customers to manage any concerns about data protection and privacy.
Organisations should also not forget that the availability of more data also places much more power in the hands of customers. Online review sites from Trip Advisor to seller ratings on Amazon can all have a fundamental effect on a company’s reputation. So it is vital to ensure the communications team has the capacity to respond quickly to feedback from e-channels and manage any issues at an early stage.
Organisations that put these measures in place will be able to maximise trust and that, in turn, will encourage customer loyalty and ensure they secure the benefits of the smart world.
To understand how you can build trust in your customers and maximise the benefits of smart, please contact us now.