Data Analysis: Walking the Line Between Cool and Creepy

With so much buzz lately about the National Security Agency’s use of personal data gathered from technology companies, consumers are more sensitive than ever about how their personal data is being used.

walking a tightropeBut despite the public outcry over government access to personal communications information, many consumers say they’re OK with companies using their personal data to provide them with targeted offers.

While 86% of consumers say they’re concerned about their personal data being tracked, a whopping 85% say they recognize that data tracking makes it possible for retailers to present them with relevant and targeted content, according to a survey of 2,000 consumers in the US and the UK by Accenture.

Moreover, nearly half (49%) of the respondents say they’re open to having trusted brands track their data in return for receiving personalized recommendations, targeted offers, and information on future product availability.

Still, companies need to tread carefully to ensure that they don’t creep out customers and prospects. Although one customer might be perfectly comfortable with a business using data analysis and his personal information to offer him a more targeted buying experience, another consumer might not be so keen on the idea.

Consumers who freely share information about themselves in social media networks are more likely to be receptive to personalized offers than people who don’t, according to John-Paul Clarke, director of the Air Transportation Laboratory at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Clarke believes it’s ultimately up to consumers to set the boundaries for the levels of personal information they’re willing to share so companies will work within those limits. Indeed, one of the greatest challenges for companies in addressing the privacy concerns of consumers is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to customer data usage.

For instance, 56% of Millennials (ages 18 to 34) say they’d be willing to share their locations with nearby companies in return for relevant coupons or deals. By comparison, only 42% of consumers 35 and older would agree to share their locations, according to a survey by USC Annenberg Center for Digital Future and Bovitz Inc.

Companies can also use analytics to understand the levels of information that consumers are willing to share with them.

For example, companies can collect information that customers share in surveys. They can also gather consumer sentiment about the information they’re willing to share and what offers they’re open to receiving via interactions with contact center agents and other customer-facing employees.

From there, sales and marketing teams can analyze customer sentiment to develop messaging, offers, and recommendations that customers are interested in receiving based on their feedback.

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