How do I gather data on my consumers sensitively?

Negative media coverage in recent years about recycling bins collecting data from nearby mobile phones and health apps harvesting sensitive personal data has demonstrated that organisations have to be careful or risk being seen as intrusive.

Nic Sheen, group solutions director at Communisis, a provider of personalised customer communication services, believes retailers can market their products by using customer data while being transparent about how it is collected and how customers can opt out.

He says: “The principles behind data and how it should be used are not as complicated as they first appear. If customers never shop at a store and yet receive a marketing communication offering a highly personalised recommendation, they will be concerned about where the data originated. However, the same offer from a brand they regularly engage with would be welcomed.”

Research has shown customers are willing to share more data, Sheen adds, provided organisations use it to improve targeting of products and services.

He says: “Technological advances have allowed retailers to gather more information about customers than ever and companies should take every opportunity to do so in a transparent, customer-centric manner.”

Customers may not be aware of the amount of data that retailers hold about them, and it can feel like an invasion of privacy if they are not clear about how and why it has been collected, according to Sheen. “Customers have to feel fully engaged and in control of which data they share,” he says.