Consumers trade personalization for money, customer service

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22% of those surveyed were open to sharing data in exchange for an improved level of customer service in the future.

It seems consumers are willing to share personal data if it means they can save money or resolve a customer service issue more quickly. According to a study conducted by YouGov in partnership with customer experience company [24]7, 43% of consumers agreed they would exchange personal data to save money and 39% would do so to speed up resolution of an issue. 

However, off-target messages and privacy concerns were still big deterrents for receiving personalized marketing messages. 

Cost-savings won out across all age groups, with millennials willingness to share data in exchange for deals at 49%; Generation Xers at 44%; and 38% of baby boomers. 

Scott Horn

“It’s commonly assumed that privacy concerns are a major deterrent for consumers being asked to share personal data with companies. Our survey showed that consumers are in fact willing to exchange their data with companies, provided there is a tangible benefit,” Scott Horn, CMO of [24]7, told FierceRetail. “Companies should ensure they’re making the best use of the data they have to continually enhance the customer experience.”

Relevance, however, plays a big role in whether or not these consumers accept or reject personalized messages. In fact, 29% cited irrelevant content as the No. 1 reason they were bothered by personalized messages. And 32% said it “felt like an invasion or privacy” getting personalized messages. Finally, 28% total stated, “I don’t like when companies have my information when I don’t explicitly provide it.”

“Irrelevant messages and offers can easily feel like an invasion of privacy for consumers. The cost of getting this wrong once could mean some customers never return,” Horn said. 

But when consumers do share data, 47% have high expectations as a direct result of sharing personal information. The younger the respondent, the higher the expectation; 59% of millennials expect more personal service, followed by 47% of Gen Xers and 38% of baby boomers. 

In addition, 22% of those surveyed were open to sharing data in exchange for an improved level of customer service in the future. Sixteen percent would share post-purchase data to receive ongoing information from the company, while only 17% want to share if encounter an issue that requires a resolution.

Horn suggests that while retailers have access to vast amounts of data about their consumers, they are not using it in the correct way to drive loyalty. For example, if a customer calls into a retailer with an issue, the support team could answer the call with information about that customer’s recent purchase rather than asking them to repeat the information from the beginning. Similarly, if a customer is calling about an item that is out of stock online, the retailer could use the consumer’s location to suggest retail stores in the area that may have the inventory. 

“All consumers behave and engage differently, and retailers would be wise to ensure that all marketing messages—from online ads to e-mails—are designed with the goal of building long-term relationships. Today, retailers have access to machine learning and AI technologies that can help them drill down on consumer personas, engagement behaviors and preferences, all of which help ensure messages resonate with consumers,” Horn said. 

Horn says data is in the midst of an evolution, moving from reactive to proactive. Rather than analyzing data to see what customers have done in the past, it can be used to determine a customer’s intent. But to be truly successful, he notes this needs to happen in real-time. While some retailers are already doing this, more will jump on the path as AI technologies become more commonplace. 

“The most successful companies will be those that tap into the power of these tools to enhance their customer acquisition and customer engagement efforts across all touchpoints,” he added.