Convenience is essential in a hyper-connected and fast moving world

In general, most marketers feel that using customer and prospect personal information enables them to deliver a better, more personalised customer experience. Why? Because that’s what data delivers. The ability to have tailor-made connections with your customers based on real insight.

But this exchange and the value it delivers to the customer isn’t always obvious and it’s dangerous to assume people understand what is taking place.

Convenience is essential in a hyper-connected and fast moving world but when you look at how this exchange of data for service and convenience takes place, then there is often a lack of clarity. We ask them to read often lengthy, complicated terms and conditions. And in reality, they may well skim through the Ts and Cs without actually paying full attention to what they are agreeing to.
When, in actual fact (and almost ironically) one of the greatest benefits delivered by gathering this data, is that it allows websites and services to remember individuals so that they don’t have to jump through all the same hoops again.

This then opens the debate about how comfortable people actually are with sharing their personal information.

Have we helped them to understand this? Increasingly, people are prepared to share their data if they consider the exchange to be sufficient, or if the product or service they receive in an exchange is one that they place a high enough value upon. This is what we call the value exchange, and it’s something marketers need to get to grips with.

Even after this, however, the use of that data still opens a number of understandable concerns for many people. Among them are identity theft, intrusive and irrelevant advertising or other unwanted communications – spam, for want of a better word. In a data-driven world, businesses have a responsibility to explain how data is used for good. How it can help to deliver services and offer better details. Any value exchange needs to be built on a foundation that explains and advocates this.

Data needs to be used in a controlled way that has value for and balances the rights of the person who is sharing it and this needs to be transparent. What one person is fully aware of and comfortable with sharing, another individual may not be.

Overall, many people understand the value exchange that enables them to use the services that our digital, data-led economy has opened up, including keeping the internet free. Some types of customers recognise that they own their data and accept the responsibilities that come with this ownership. Others resist sharing data or actively seek to obscure their real selves during interactions.

Read our paper 'Delivering value in the digital age'

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Our research shows some significant divides in the way people feel about sharing data. Some are comfortable with the idea that the more they share – the more they get, while others feel the more they share – the more of themselves they give away, without valuing what they receive in return. That said, this increased awareness has not meant that more people are shying away from sharing their data, nor has it hampered the growth of the data market.

In fact, the research shows that some of the most popular apps, such as social networking, emails, and messaging, provide such a high perceived value, that people are very happy to sign up for them without quibbling over the data sharing aspects.

I encourage you to take a look at the paper (it’s free) but also urge marketers to keep the value exchange front of mind in everything they do. It is a responsibility to handle someone’s data and in order to ask for it you need to be confident that you are providing value. As an industry we need to make sure that value is clearly spelled out because if we aren’t seen to be providing value we soon won’t be able to use people’s data.