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How to balance
the need to collect
customer data
with customer
privacy concerns

Author: Amrita Singh

Customer experience (CX) professionals have long recognized that the “moments that matter” on a customer’s journey are those that are effective, effortless and personal. And how do you make the customer experience personal? Knowledge. But knowledge requires collecting customer data.

Yet talk to customers, and they will tell you they want to be assured their customer data is secure, while at the same time they expect a more personalized experience.

And therein lies the problem. How do you achieve the right balance between collecting the customer data necessary to deliver that personalized experience but also ensure that customer privacy is still protected?

Customer privacy concerns about sharing customer data

Customer privacy concerns about sharing data are well founded. Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report found that 58 percent of victims had personal data compromised. Whenever news breaks about another data breach, those concerns are heightened. Cybercriminals don’t just want your money, they want your identity. 

Customer data that is routinely collected describes people’s behaviors, preferences, and values—and it is highly personal. We guard this information carefully because, collectively, it describes who we are. It’s our identity. We not only avoid voluntarily sharing our information but also regard those who collect and keep this information as invaders of our privacy.

The customer experience dilemma

What becomes of CX if customer privacy concerns cause people to tighten the clamps on sharing their customer data?

One of the fundamentals of information security is access. And we need to be even more mindful of protecting data during times of crisis. It should be easy for me to access my data but hard for those entities I don’t authorize to do so. Our efforts to achieve this began with setting a password that’s easy for us to remember but hard for others to guess.

Problem is, our passwords often proved easy for people to guess (admit it: you’ve had “password” as your password at some point). So we were told to create long, complex passwords with numbers and symbols—and to change them every month.

But how many of us have become frustrated by trying to set a password that’s actually accepted? Now it’s two-factor authentication: a much more secure solution but yet another layer of complexity to hinder the customer experience.

Our data is harder for cybercriminals to breach, but it’s also harder for us to access.

The right balance

So how can you reach the right balance between great customer experience and secure customer data? Thankfully, as personal recognition technologies evolve, we can stop sacrificing security for great customer experience and vice versa. Paradoxically, what is most descriptive of who we are can provide the strongest security.

Your fingerprint, for example, is uniquely yours, as is your voice. And you can’t forget them. Biometric technology is now maturing to a level where people are their own security. Airlines, for example, have been using facial recognition for several years. But can you imagine boarding an airplane using your masked face as a boarding pass? Stop imagining—travelers may soon be able to go through airport security with facial recognition without removing their face masks.

But customers need to understand the benefits of a personalized experience while trusting the business to handle its customer data properly. To help customers along the journey, be transparent with your customer data policy and spell out the specific benefits to them for sharing personal information. Reward customers with targeted offers and discounts aligned with their past spending behavior.

Customers are likely to be more cooperative and less defensive when they understand that if they share their personal customer data, it benefits them. When that happens, those “moments that matter” translate into a great customer experience. By letting people lead their journey, their customer privacy concerns about sharing customer data can be greatly reduced, and the result is a win-win for both you and your customer.

Learn more about how Verizon can help your organization deliver a great customer experience while building confidence and trust around customer data and customer privacy concerns.

Amrita Singh is Manager, Product Marketing Customer Experience and Contact Center Solutions at Verizon.