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August 14, 2012

'The Survey Says!' - Consumers Trust Amazon, Apple and Google the Most with Personal Information

By Peter Bernstein, Senior Editor

Personal data management is emerging as not just a big opportunity for Big Data application, but because it gets to the heart of the trust/control thing that Steve Wozniak and civil libertarians fear the move to the cloud will wreak havoc with, there is good reason for a sanity check as to how users actually feel about providing companies their personal info. Fortunately, the data is now being generated for some analysis. In fact, ClickFox (News - Alert), an emerging leader in the field of experience analytics, is out with its data audit on the subject and the findings are in a word, instructive. 

The company has provided a wonderful infograph of its survey results that are worth a quick look. At the 50,000 foot level they found that consumers like location services in marketing campaigns, are wary of data use among retailers and trust the financial services industry most with personal information. By sector, they are followed by healthcare and government in second and third, respectively. What was most surprising to me was that companies who I distrust based on things like practices, fines, etc. ranked the highest, with Amazon ranking number one and Apple and Google (News - Alert) not far behind.  

The methodoly used was to ask 172 consumers about their preferences and perceptions of how companies use data recorded during customer interactions in July 2012. Respondents were 65 percent male and 35 percent female representing a wide range of age groups: 18-25 (four percent), 16-35 (18 percent), 36-45 (33 percent) and 46 and older (46 percent).

Marco Pacelli, chief executive officer, ClickFox commented that, “Unsurprisingly, the retail industry receives poor marks for consumer trust and this can often be attributed to consumer engagement that tends to solely focus on the sale…Companies get customer service right when they begin to analyze every customer touch point to get a clear picture of customer satisfaction -- unfortunately, most organizations don't know they've burned consumers until their revenues drop."

A few more data points are revealing. For example, consumer acceptance of location-based marketing has increased:

  • 71 percent noted they would share their location for giveaways, discounts or improved service
  • 71 percent revealed they are comfortable with companies knowing their location
  • 84 percent prefer organizations to use their data to improve their customer experience
  • 83 percent of respondents expect companies they do business with to know their purchase and retail history
  • 82 percent expect companies to know past consumer experiences, which highlights the need for more advanced analytics tools for customer engagement

It gets better in terms of the atmospherics that those managing brands need to digest. 

  • 19 percent said they are most comfortable with organizations using their cell phone number as a personal identifier second only to personal security question at 43 percent
  • 41 percent would provide cell phone numbers for giveaways, discounts or improved service
  • 49 percent are comfortable with companies knowing their cell phone number
  • 45 percent would share purchase history from other companies they do business with for giveaways, discounts or improved service
  • 40 percent are comfortable with companies knowing their purchase history across organizations with whom they do business

Not surprisingly, given ClickFox’s business, it concludes that the findings point to a need for companies to invest in better tools for gathering data so insights can become actionable in terms of improving the customer experience and managing the data for a variety of other business imperatives. 

To be honest, as noted at the top, I am surprised by the level of trust consumers are willing to place in the hands of businesses when conducting interactions online. The willingness to provide more than name, rank and serial number is fascinating. Either that or I am generationally paranoid. How else to explain not just providing location, but on a mobile device? 

While admittedly somewhat anecdotal because of the sample size, these kinds of surveys do point to the opportunities that await for those who can effectively mine Big Data and leverage the trust that exists for further competitive advantage. This should also send a message to marketing people about the importance of brand reputation as exhibited by Amazon, Apple (News - Alert) and Google. The survey happens to track quite nicely with lists of this the most admired companies. It may be stating the obvious but reputation and trust are joined at more than just the hip. 

Whether those who look to experience insights go overboard and destroy trust is problematic. The survey says that at least for the moment, the time is ripe for taking advantage of being in most consumers’ good graces.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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