Win customer trust before questioning

Alan Mitchell is right in principle to say, in “Data access shake-up for direct marketing” (MW August 19), that marketers should make it possible for consumers to expect flexibility and openness with regard to the way their personal data is used by our industry. The likelihood of this happening, however, depends on how responsible clients feel they need to be, how much pressure they feel from customers and what legislation is in place.

An organisation which decides it wants to offer direct marketing matrix options to consumers will need to question them to find out what they do, and do not, want to be contacted about. If there is already a good consumer dialogue in place there will be a level of trust in the relationship and the consumer should be happy to divulge these details. If, however, the relationship is superficial, detailed questioning may seem incongruous and arouse suspicion.

The software exists to help companies embrace a more open and flexible approach to those whose personal data they hold. However, marketers need to look first at building a good relationship with their customers. Accurate targeting, good data analysis and the maintenance of quality data are essential to creating a dialogue that is timely, well targeted and relevant. Once they have established their credibility in this way, they can look to more sophisticated and, ultimately, more satisfactory dialogue for all parties.

Robert Macdermot

Managing director

The Computing Group

Crawley

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