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Collecting the Right Customer Data: Balancing Personalization with Privacy

By Andrew Schumacher | December 02, 2022 | 0 Comments

Customer Service and Support

In your personal life, don’t you appreciate it when it feels like a company knows who you are and what you need? As customers, we all prefer experiences that are more personalized. But we are also wary of how much of our data gets shared, and what data gets used. In a Customer Service and Support context, this presents leaders with a problem–how can we balance customer demand for personalization with increasing privacy concerns? With this in mind, I want to explore how Customer Service and Support leaders should use this information, and how you can limit what you collect to just 5 things. 

Be Wary Of How You Use Your Data

Personalization and context are important, but there is a limit. While 7 in 10 customers want a more personalized service experience, 7 in 10 are making an effort to share less data, and 8 in 10 are not willing to share personal information with companies they do not trust. Think of it this way, in your day-to-day life, we may appreciate when a company recommends products based on your previous purchases, or suggests paperless billing based on your account history and preferences. On the other hand, we may feel creeped out, or uneasy, when we get ads on our phone about something we don’t remember searching for, from companies we don’t have a relationship with. Has a company ever congratulated you for a life event you didn’t notify them of? 


Gartner data has quantified this feeling. A 2022 Gartner survey on personalization demonstrated that Service and Support leaders should be careful as to how much data they use to personalize the customer experience. You can see this in the “creepiness index” below.


We know that the number of data dimensions that customers perceive in any one interaction increases the invasiveness or “creepiness” experienced. Limiting each insight to one or two data dimensions gives the opportunity to improve the service experience while limiting the negative impact that a heightened concern for privacy can bring. 


There is a lot of data to pick from. We are seemingly collecting more data than ever before, but what data do we really need to deliver that personalized experience while limiting creepiness? 


What Data Do We Need?

In order to deliver a value enhancing experience, the most important factor for success is how you present information relevant to that customer. Gartner research tells us that how recommendations are positioned is 5 times more impactful than the action service takes, and 3 times more impactful than what the customer gets in return on the perceived value of a service interaction. There are five different pieces of context that can help improve the overall customer experience: 


  • Company history
  • Issue type 
  • Similar user experienced
  • Customer knowledge 
  • Personal circumstances 

Service and Support leaders should build their customer data strategy around understanding as many of these as possible.


Customer Service and Support leaders should look to manage their data in three ways:


  1. Begin with data that has the lowest barrier to access.
  2. Determine whether data outputs should lead to proactive or preemptive recommendations for customers.
  3. Evaluate the capabilities of Service and Support to provide contextual value to customers.


You can learn more about improving your data and how to better personalize customers’ interactions with your company by talking with a Gartner Advisor or Analyst, or reading our recent research exploring operationalizing Value Enhancement and the future of Customer Service and Support. 

The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

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