Is Personalization Cool? Or Not Cool?

By Christophe Legras

Christophe Legras
“More people are coming round to the idea that use of personal data is a benefit.” – Christophe Legras, Xerox Research Centre Europe

The debate over personalization versus privacy rumbles on, with occasional high profile cases reigniting the flames of mistrust. Working in a research center that handles a lot of text and data, I find it fascinating.

And I was pleasantly surprised when I got a peek at the results of our new survey into the state of customer service.

The survey found that almost three quarters of consumers expect personalization from their hardware, telecoms or media supplier.

Generally, it seems that more people are coming round to the idea that use of personal data is a benefit.

I myself am pretty cool with the concept of personalization. I like the fact that my music app assesses my playlist to suggest other tracks I might want to listen to. And it annoys me if my phone’s location service loses me.

But there’s still a significant number of people who are unhappy with personalization. The research confirmed it’s an age thing. But there are also interesting variations across the countries and industries.

For example, people have very high expectations of their telecoms operator.

Why Be Afraid?

I can understand why some folk don’t like the idea of companies using their personal data.

But I also think that a lot of it has to do with communication – or a lack of it. Industries need to do far more to explain to individuals what data they are collecting and what they are doing with it. Both to protect it, and, of course, to show how it can benefit the customer.

What’s in it for Me?

That’s what people want to know. If they can understand the balance between sharing data and gaining value, consumers are far more likely to feel the benefits.

Say a customer contacts a service center for help with a technical issue. If you know the customer’s level of expertise, you can offer a solution that’s easiest for them.

This is the type of personalization that we are achieving on behalf of some clients already. If consumers are helped in a way that suits them best as an individual, then that’s a benefit they consider worthy of sharing data.

Reserve your copy of the technology, communications or media edition of The State of Customer Service 2015 study today.

Earning Trust

It seems some industries and brands are more trusted as custodians of personal data than others.

Organizations that have earned the trust of their customers will be rewarded with access to more personal data, placing them with a competitive advantage in the market.

While those with lower trust levels will be on the back foot, playing catch up.

I think the survey will make fascinating reading for those hoping to learn lessons and gain the trust of their customers.  It’s not out yet but you can sign up here to get a copy soon.

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