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Privacy versus personalization

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Marketers today are able to sew an end-to-end customer journey which is highly personalized and contextual, as data-driven innovations help in meeting the goals of delightful user experience. It is all about taking input from the users and making their lives efficient.

But there are some big caveats, one of which is understanding the difference between privacy and personalization.

Privacy versus personalization

As we’re seeing more and more, data privacy is a hot topic for companies and countries all around the world. And nothing can place innovation in jeopardy faster than poor privacy practices. Using hyper-personalization to deliver benefits and utility without creeping out the customers is the ideal case, where customer experience remains upright and steady.

When bad CX and lax data privacy meet, it can have terrible outcomes for businesses. One such case of this was Mattel’s Wi-Fi connected “Hello Barbie”. It was built to recognize children’s voices, then stream them to a cloud in order to produce personalized responses. The product was said to be snooping into children’s private space, enraging parents, and recording voice then analyzing it for commercial use raised moral, ethical, and legal issues.

The product was not accepted by the masses, and highly condemned by the media. Similar was the case of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, where Facebook suffered from huge stock losses amid data breach scandal. User experience today is about keeping the customers happy at all costs, and much of it revolves around making the interaction smooth while simultaneously meeting the customer demands.

You need to have sufficient data on customers to meet their needs, but not without mutual agreement. It seems to be a grueling trajectory for marketers to target their segments providing personalization and adhering to privacy policies. This seems to be more like an oxymoron. This uphill task, when achieved provides maximum value to the customers.

Consumer trust and data privacy fuel the new economy

The ultimate goal of marketing is customer loyalty, which can be achieved by walking the thin line between personalization and privacy. Privacy must ideally be part of the organization’s mode of operation. This requires following privacy by design principles while formulating user experience.

Proactive not reactive: Organizations must be upfront, anticipating potential privacy issues and deterring such situations. Design and data are used in such a manner that there is no need of a remedy.

Positive sum game: Marketing teams must decipher customer intent and provide high-quality customer experience without sacrificing consumer privacy. Using first-party permissions and giving the customer the control to decide the kind of personalization they expect creates a win-win situation.

Keep it open: Marketing organizations must ensure that they provide full visibility into the data collected and the purpose it is used for. The transparency makes customers aware of the organization’s intent and also helps organizations win customer’s trust.

User-centric: Organizations must provide users control over their end-to-end personal data through the experience cycle. They must be provided with the ability to alter the data cycles anytime in their customer journey.

Throughout the customer journey, customers must be provided with recommendations using data and design which benefits them during different experiences. As per Forrester, situations where a customer has different choices such as leisure, important, routine, and urgent, can produce a different degree of challenges for personalization. These situations are emerging as marketing opportunities to balance personalization versus privacy.

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Swati Sinha
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January 28, 2019
Swati Sinha

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