A willingness to share: About giving and taking

Artificial intelligence, personalization, targeting, and segment of one. What do all these keywords have in common? They all require data. The more, the better, and, ideally, at the best quality. But how do companies get access to relevant customer data? Particularly in Europe, where data protection gives marketeers less room to maneuver than, for example, in China, we need to have attractive incentives for customers to entice them to share their (personal) data.

When are customers willing to share their personal information with companies? How should companies communicate with their customers and what should they be doing? ZHAW, the Zurich University of Applied Sciences [Züricher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften], and AZ Direct examined these questions as part of an Innosuisse research project, which BSI supported as a practice partner.

Here are the most critical takeaways:

  • It makes sense: The better customers understand why companies request data, and for what purpose, the more readily they will share the relevant information. Customers value use cases and customer journeys that are consistent and add definite value – their readiness to share increases when they recognize a clear purpose and benefit to the data request.
  • Trust me: The more transparent a company is about what the requested data will be used for, the more consistently it adheres to this purpose and obtains the explicit consent for it, and the more control and management of their data it cedes to its customers (keyword: customer portal), the higher their customers’ willingness to share data will be. Building trust is key.
  • Safety first: The more confident customers are that the data they are sharing with companies is encrypted and protected, the more readily they will disclose it. Thus, ensuring data security is an essential task for companies.
  • What’s in it for you: The better customers understand what they get in exchange for their data, the more willingly they will share it. Devising compelling, creative incentives is the key to success, and convenience and customer benefit should be at the center of it.

The greater your knowledge and understanding of your target group, the easier it will be for you to create the best incentive systems. Don’t lose sight of your customer’s benefit besides your business goals when designing customer journeys. In particular, consider experimenting with different strategies to get to know your prospective and current customers better.