Picture: 123RF/RAWPIXEL
Picture: 123RF/RAWPIXEL

Customer privacy is under the spotlight as SA follows in the footsteps of Europe with its General Data Protection Regulation and with other privacy regulations that have come into effect across the globe. The newly implemented Protection of Personal Information (Popi) Act aims to govern how organisations collect, store and use personal information, and while compliance and governance have traditionally fallen under the legal department’s domain, this is changing. Marketing departments can no longer ignore their role in adhering to the requirements of the Popi act. 

Privacy management is critical, not only as a compliance tool for legal and compliance practitioners but also for building trust with customers. Marketers have to be involved in privacy programmes to establish trust and deliver the best user experience to meet customer expectations, which include treating customers in a way they feel respected and valued. 

While customers are willing to disclose personal information and have this information used by an organisation, they want to know that the company has procedures in place to protect their individual privacy. According to Deloitte, data privacy is about more than keeping hackers at bay; it is also about assuring consumers that the trust they place in a brand is warranted. 

What is privacy worth?

Customer privacy and its importance for business and profitability is gaining attention as consumers become increasingly aware that companies are collecting their data though they don’t know what it is being used for. 

At the same time they’re growing more concerned about their privacy. The PWC Consumer Intelligence Series: Protect.Me says as many as 85% of consumers will not do business with a company if they have concerns about its security practices. Further, if companies have privacy scandals associated with them, it eliminates the brand from being considered during the selection process of the buyer’s journey, thereby decreasing the chances of its being chosen for purchase. 

However, as many customers are not experts on data privacy, they expect the brands they trust to put their privacy at the centre of all decisions they make. In other words, the trust consumers place in brands depends on the privacy measures they believe the brand has in place to keep their data secure. 

Trust and customer privacy go hand in hand, and companies need to live by their brand promise and protect their customers’ data if they are to meet customer expectations and establish a relationship of trust. 

Customer experience builds trust

Though marketers have traditionally used customer data – gained either directly or via third-party sources – to develop targeted campaigns, consumers’ needs have changed. While customers want personalised experiences and targeted campaigns these need to be balanced with compliance and privacy requirements. 

Transparency is critical to this process. Customers are more likely to give companies their data if they know they are collecting it and what they will be using it for. This fact is supported by Deloitte’s 2019 US retail privacy survey, which found that investing in the building of trust through consumer privacy can deliver a measurable return, with 73% of consumers stating they are more likely to share data with companies that have privacy policies in place and let them know how their data will be used. 

In essence, the customer experiences develop trust and the data that companies collect should add value to the consumer. Consumers want customer-centric user experiences that deliver on the brand promise while adhering to privacy policies. To achieve this, the customer has to be central to the business strategy, which includes the marketing and technology strategies, and this needs to drive brand security. 

Implement privacy by design

Legal, marketing and IT departments need to work closely together to ensure that the proper privacy standards are adhered to, brand experiences are delivered according to the brand promise and customer data is secure at all times. Marketing departments are becoming more reliant on IT departments to gather customer data and implement technology solutions to deliver on-brand experiences that adhere to brand security standards and maintain relationships of trust with customers. 

Companies stand to benefit from using technologies that have been tested independently and align with European security standards to give customers and employees peace of mind that data is gathered and stored securely. Further solutions that have been designed with security upfront to include segmentation of risk ensure that content is safeguarded and secure throughout the data storage and usage processes. 

Consistency provides peace of mind

The increased focus on customer privacy means that marketing departments need to keep customers informed that they are collecting their data and how they are using it. They also need to ensure that they are engaging customers on their terms according to the data they have collected.

It is equally important that marketing departments pay close attention to brand consistency across all company platforms, such as websites and e-mails, as this reassures customers that the company takes their privacy seriously.

When companies pay attention to the smallest details in their branding, it gives customers peace of mind that the business takes their brand seriously and that they will have put thought into the brand security, privacy policy and strategy. 

Trust is marketing’s responsibility

Customer privacy is no longer the sole domain of the legal department. It has to move beyond checking compliance boxes to ensure that the company adheres to privacy regulations that have been stipulated by the government; it is about focusing on the customer and prioritising trust. 

To enhance customer experiences and build relationships of trust, marketing departments need to play an active role in establishing privacy or trust policies, implementing brand security measures and putting the customer at the centre of these strategies. Customers seek transparency and confirmation that companies will protect their data while balancing this with personalised customer experiences. 

Overall, marketing departments need to invest in privacy and take it seriously. From the newsletters companies send to pop-ups on websites and the technology solutions they implement to help deliver customer-centric experiences, customer privacy and brand security need to be at the core. 

  • Paula Sartini is the founder and CEO at BrandQuantum International.

 

The big take-out:

The big take-out: Companies need to live by their brand promise and protect their customers’ data if they are to meet customer expectations and establish a relationship of trust.

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