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From Cookies to consent: Navigating data privacy in the age of personalisation

With a vast number of business interactions now happening digitally, companies of all sizes are racing to make their online offerings as compelling as possible. 

Businesses are starting to realise that to attract and retain customers; they need to make digital experiences easy and frictionless. Bogging people down by requiring constant registrations and passwords makes it much more likely they will shift to more nimble competitors.

Interestingly, while customers are seeking extraordinary online experiences, they also want to be able to enjoy them without sacrificing the security of their personal information.

And while research shows that 77 per cent of people believe they will never be in full control of their privacy online, they still automatically accept the terms and conditions allowing businesses to profit from their data. 

The value of transparency

In an ideal world, all businesses would provide complete transparency about how they collect, store, manage, and share personal data. Unfortunately, however, this is often not the case. Many businesses still don’t fully reveal how customer data is being used and are often taking advantage of gaps in regulations and public awareness.

Businesses need to realise that, as consumers become more aware of their personal data’s value, enhanced privacy measures can be a true competitive advantage.

If a business is keen to earn long-term consumer trust, it needs to make data privacy a matter of priority. Any failure to do this could see the business losing out to others that do.

Improving digital data privacy

There are some key steps businesses can take that will significantly improve the level of data security and privacy they offer customers. Together they can reduce the risk of data misuse and increase customer confidence. 

A good start is what is known as progressive profiling. This strategy limits what data is collected about a consumer by gathering smaller amounts of information incrementally rather than all at once.

Instead of inundating a prospective new customer with dozens of questions on a sign-up form, a business can collect personal data gradually as a customer uses their various products or services.

This approach minimises friction and also creates more compelling customer experiences. Customers will be able to clearly see when their data is being collected and shared by a business each time they interact with it. 

Limit device monitoring

Businesses also need to change the approach they take when it comes to collecting customer data via digital devices. Smart speakers and televisions are now commonplace, but consumers don’t want to be bombarded with intrusive pop-up ads or emails for products or services that they just casually mentioned in conversation.  

Ideally, consumers should not receive any unsolicited digital communications from businesses. After making a one-time purchase from a business that they probably will never engage with again, they should not receive any emails or texts from that business offering further deals or discounts.

Compelling customer experiences can also be enhanced by not requiring customers to respond to website requests for cookie permissions. At the very least, customers should be able to simply click a “reject all” button rather than having to peruse a long list of preferences.

Disposal of data

Businesses also need to be aware of the importance of deleting personal data once it is no longer required rather than hoarding every item of information possible. Rather, businesses should only acquire the bare minimum of data required and then dispose of it within a limited time period.

It’s important that data privacy policies are also easy for customers to understand. Rather than being presented with pages and pages of dense text, policies should be clearly spelled out in a format that is easy to read and understand.

Making effective data privacy a reality

Achieving an environment of effective data privacy for consumers requires effort on the part of businesses, and it is an effort well worth undertaking.

Businesses that take the necessary steps to ensure data privacy and improved digital experience will be rewarded with a growing group of customers and establish a long-term relationship that benefits both parties. Now: consider how an effective digital privacy strategy could benefit your organisation.

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Ashley Diffey

Ashley Diffey

Ashley Diffey is a technology leader and business executive with extensive experience in the field of cybersecurity and identity management. He is currently serving as the Vice President of Asia Pacific and Japan at Ping Identity.

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