Customer data privacy:
Trust or trapped

The last few years have brought a storm of data breaches. The scale and reach of these incidents is revealing: nobody is spared. Even major platforms who were able to invest heavily in compliance and security have not escaped.

The complexity of technical and social weaknesses remains a step ahead of the mitigations, and there is a growing “privacy fatigue” for consumers. Promises are broken and trust is lost, but studies show that, historically, customers would return even after well-publicised security breaches. This is the “privacy paradox”, which describes the contradictions between what consumers say and do when it comes to privacy.

There is a rising vocal concern about privacy, and contradictory mass adoption of platforms with clear privacy risks. This has created a sense of entrapment for consumers, as they want these products badly enough to accept the privacy risks. There are limited alternatives available in their minds.

Naturally, there is now a vacuum forming in the market for a new generation of products which approach data privacy differently, and could win over these customers with waning loyalty.

The push for platform

For many organisations, the drive towards technology-enabled platforms and personalisation is usually the source of these data privacy challenges. These heavily rely on customer data to function. Knowing a customer’s behaviours, and particularly their preferences and demographics, are what enable most of the feature set and value in your product. 

Clearly, total guaranteed data security and privacy is not likely a promise anybody can keep. So need to think differently about how we design and market technology offerings which resonate with modern consumers. This generation are not naïve, they are aware of the privacy risks, and aren’t expecting perfection. They’re looking for pragmatism, transparency and respect from the products they’re willing to share data with. 

Transparency is key

This is the opportunity. You can capitalise by offering clear terms and excellent communication as the bedrock of trust, and clearly demonstrating practical care for customer data:

  • Transparency: Non-technical customers want simple answers to the obvious questions in their minds when sharing private information. Why do you need this, how and where do you store it, who is it shared with. 
  • Pragmatism: Don’t collect more than you need, don’t attempt to obfuscate and confuse your users. Assume they are both sceptical and knowledgeable. 
  • Avoid third-party monetisation of customer data: Even with consent, this approach alienates customers who can feel used. 
  • Options: Build trust by offering control and choice to your users upfront. 

Regulation or not, breaches are everywhere. We need to be prudent with the approach to data protection. When it comes to privacy, bad press can destroy a brand. We also need to be more practical, and assume a degree more wisdom on the part of the customer.

Consumers are better informed than ever, and are looking for products and platforms they can understand, relate to, and trust. The opportunity is clear, mirror these priorities in your product and in your technical implementation. Provide simplicity, transparency, control and security to these consumers, and win long-term trust.

Need more guidance on tightening your organisation’s security practices?

We can help you crystalise the way forward and facilitate decision-making. Get in touch.

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