A Guide to Maintaining Consumer Trust When Using Big Data

April 16, 2014
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ImageWith the ever-increasing occurrence of data breaches in different companies and sectors across the world, consumers are becoming more and more concerned about their privacy and how companies are using and protecting the consumer information they gather.

ImageWith the ever-increasing occurrence of data breaches in different companies and sectors across the world, consumers are becoming more and more concerned about their privacy and how companies are using and protecting the consumer information they gather.

If companies are to succeed in the world of big data and e-commerce they need to give importance to protecting consumer data and using it judiciously. It should be used to improve the customer experience and not to be sold or abused in any way. By using programs like Hadoop Hive, companies can get the data they need to improve their services, while at the same time protecting their customers. Here are some additional things companies need to keep in mind about big data and customer privacy.

1. Protection of consumer data should be a top priority

Just look at the difficult position Target is currently in with its recent data breach. The company has been forced to spend millions of dollars trying to recover its image and customers and will suffer future losses from customers who won’t return because of the debacle. Better data protection would have cost money, but it would have been significantly less than the millions and millions Target is paying right now. It’s a lesson every company should learn from. With the capabilities of hackers and cyber thieves, companies should be concerned and plan accordingly. You can’t be too safe.

2. Transparency

This is an area where companies can gain important ground in building trust with consumers. Companies need to clarify, in something other than a complex privacy policy that very few people actually read or understand, what they use consumer information for and how it improves the consumer experience and products and services offered by the company. It should also illustrate to customers what is being done to protect their information and what is not being done to compromise it. Companies will, of course, continue to have their complex privacy policies for legal reasons, but a simpler form will go a long way in alleviating consumer concerns and improve business. Generally consumers don’t grasp the need of the information gathered by companies. Additionally, consumers should know that the data gathered isn’t stored for the purpose of following an individual; it’s used to improve and enhance the customer experience.

3. Make consumer privacy part of the company culture

It’s important that companies embrace consumer privacy and ensure employees at every level are committed to protecting it. It’s not good enough anymore to do the bare minimum. Consumers want and deserve better. The time when companies could slide by thinking consumers wouldn’t notice or care what their information was being used for is long gone. People are becoming increasingly web savvy and increasingly paranoid about their information. If companies insist that privacy protection become part of the company culture it’s going to speak volumes to customers. If consumers understand why companies want their information, how it’s going to affect them as a buyer and that it’s going to be safe, the probability that they’ll divulge relevant info rises significantly.

4. Increase consumer awareness

Another step companies can take to improve relationships and trust with consumers is improving privacy awareness. By alerting customers to areas that are often overlooked when it comes to information privacy — social media, blogs, etc. — companies enhance their own image and improve customer satisfaction. When it comes down to it, people are going to use the internet and mobile devices to buy products and services. They are going to have to give up personal information. The key for companies is to be transparent about the information they’re gathering and do a better job helping the customer understand why they need the information and how it’s going to provide a better service. The increased resources spent by companies for consumer privacy protection will be a wise investment.