Chapter 26. How to Ask for Customers’ Data with Transparency and Trust

Rasmus Wegener

Most customers know their data is being collected with every online click, like, or purchase, but many wish they had more control over this activity. An ongoing drumbeat of large data breaches in recent years, including at Yahoo, First American Financial, Facebook, Marriott/Starwood, and Equifax, has left many customers feeling helpless against intrusion and theft. Social media giants have also abused their customers’ trust by sharing data about them with third parties, who used the information in ways the customers might never have approved.

Breaches like these should make customers more wary about sharing data. But more than ever before, companies rely on customer data to develop new products, tailor online experiences and services, and decide where to invest in new commercial efforts. Companies that have only just begun to develop their analytic muscles aren’t likely to walk away from the potential business benefits of customer data.

So how can companies meet their need for data while respecting the concerns of their customers? For most businesses, the problem is finding the right way to articulate their reasons for collecting data and how they will use it.

Research by Bain & Company finds that paying people for their data doesn’t work. Customers who are opposed ...

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