CX Insights Series: Data and Me: The Story of Our Open Relationship (Part Three)

Customer Experience


May 19, 2016


I recently attended a Customer Experience Professional’s Association conference in London where one of the sessions really piqued my interest: the Internet of Things. In the discussion group were CX professionals from all stages of their career and from various different backgrounds. The conversation swung from self-monitoring pills that are activated when you swallow them to how our fridges will know when we’ve run out of milk, but one theme came up time and again: data. I believe that companies need to approach the topic of customers and their data like a relationship, rather than an agreement or business partnership. As I illustrate in my story, honesty is not only key, it’s crucial to improving the relationship between brands, customers and their data.

Ah, data. We’ve been through some ups and downs. At first, my parents said I shouldn’t trust you. They said people would steal you from me and make up things that weren’t true. But I decided not to listen to them (typical teenager!). My parents are the people who would protect their family silver over their computer passwords and email logins. They’d rather give their card details to a stranger on the phone than a trusted, secure website. What logic is that?

At the start, I was cautious. I only purchased online when I had to and never signed up for emails. I used one trusty supermarket loyalty card and never thought much about how it was used to give me what I wanted. A few years later I gave you to brands and websites I trusted; you helped me buy products online, get discounts and promotions. I started to sign up for those emails as they proved their worth. As time went on, I understood that brands used you to give me better offers, more personalised discounts and a better online experience. My favourite brands proved they knew me as a person and made suggestions based on what I’d looked for online. I loved how the service and experience I would get in a physical store was translated digitally!

Some brands and businesses took it too far, though. They bombarded me with warnings and jargon and then used you to spam me with things I didn’t want or need. That was a bad relationship; one with secrets and deceit and mistrust. They didn’t see you like I did, and they didn’t use you to build relationships with me; they used you to exploit me. I learnt from that and it damaged my opinion of those brands.

I’m OK with us having an open relationship. It’s 2016 and I’m happy for brands to use you to get to me as long as it benefits me, and they explain clearly what that value is. I take responsibility in making sure I don’t put you in places I wouldn’t want you to be, and in return I trust that you won’t give me things that aren’t relevant. In fact, I only really care when you get things wrong, when you do something that affects me negatively. I’ve grown up sharing my life online so it’s no surprise that you’re out there. Actually, I’m glad that we’re on the same team. And that’s how businesses need to start thinking about data and customers: like a relationship. An open and honest relationship.


Check out our other CX Insights Series blog posts here and here.

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