A third of Brits unwilling to trust ‘any organisation’ with their data

Pitney Bowes’ marketing director Phil Hutchison, warned that this may be in response to businesses deluging customers with data requests and adopting an over-familiar tone in communications; “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 per cent of Brits. Consumers have marginally more trust in Government than online retailers (30 per cent and 27 per cent respectively) and the least trusted organisations are fitness centers. Surprisingly, given the importance of customer data to this sector, retail loyalty programs garner little trust as well with a mere 15 per cent.

Pitney Bowes 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 per cent of people are unwilling to share their address with online retailers,” Hutchison added.

The survey shows 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, postal address or email. However, the trust line is crossed when these consumers are asked about private issues such as their sexual preference, religion or political persuasion.

“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!”

Pitney Bowes recommends the following six steps:

  • Ensure compliance with current data legislation, one slip can undermine or seriously damage your reputation
  • Get the basics right (name, address etc) before trying to develop the relationship further
  • Be clear about your intention. Say whey you’d like to know more and explain the benefit to your customer
  • 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
  • Don’t let data defeat you. Technology and support exists at every business level
  • 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.