Consumers aren't necessarily looking for anonymity; what they want is control. Simply put, consumers want to have a say in what kind of data is collected about them, who has access to it and how long it's kept. They especially don't trust companies that sell their personal data. Consumers want to be treated like people — not as just another target.
For communications service providers (CSPs), this is a good thing. A strong and consumer-friendly position on privacy brings CSPs closer to that original goal of data collection: a better relationship with and understanding of their customers. When consumers have confidence that a company is handling their privacy with respect, integrity and openness, they are more likely to give that company something of great value in return: their trust.
In order to become privacy leaders in the data-driven economy, CSPs need to define, communicate and, occasionally, re-approach the way they think about privacy. By following these three steps, CSPs can begin to position themselves as a leader in privacy.
Define (and re-define) privacy ideology.
Be clear and transparent.
Customers are turned off by privacy policies that are difficult to decipher. When explaining their privacy policies, CSPs should keep the language simple and truthful. Customers expect businesses to collect data about them, but they need to see value in exchange and will walk away from a relationship if they feel it is one sided.
Build privacy into the product design.
It's too late to think about privacy after a service is already designed. Instead, internal privacy experts should be engaged at the beginning of the design process so they can point out potential issues before they become problems.
Privacy leaders know their strengths and weaknesses. If your business is concerned that customers will react negatively to the use of personally identifiable data, there are services and applications (such as Neustar's marketing solutions for CSPs) that deliver actionable but anonymized data at all customer touch points. When CSPs stop seeing privacy as a roadblock and start viewing it as an opportunity for customer relationships, everyone can benefit.
By Gary Zimmerman, Director of Solution Marketing at Neustar
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