Is a CRM system that stores so much information still sensitive to privacy? It seems logical that companies would want to know all about prospects and customers so that they can adjust their information flow and service offerings accordingly. But are those same prospects and customers comfortable with that?
As long as you comply with legislation, are transparent about your intentions, and leave the customer in control, a CRM system is and remains an honest means of serving both the customer and the organization.
We ‘live’ and shop online, and virtually all of the devices we use are connected to the Internet. And before we go online, we've often agreed to terms and conditions, which we usually haven't even read. Often, this means that we've agreed to sharing of our data.
Strict privacy laws
(Thankfully,) the Netherlands has strict privacy legislation. You're not allowed to simply gather personal data, let alone use it. Such data may only be used in accordance with the purpose for which it was collected. Even more important than that is the obligation to inform anyone whose data you want to use as an organization beforehand, and to ask them for permission. When someone does not agree to this, you are obliged to remove their information on request.
Marketing & Sales love data
What does this mean for CRM systems? After all, they are designed to store as much information as possible. In particular, the integration with marketing automation and many other systems, including social media, allows various data to be gathered with ever greater ease. The technological opportunities seem infinite. Marketing & Sales love data, and for good reason. Knowing as much as possible about (potential) customers helps you serve them, ultimately benefiting both the customer and the organization. It is important to realize that ultimately, a company has nothing to gain from abusing customers' data and putting them at a disadvantage. However, it's a good idea to state this explicitly in your policy and your outward communication.
Transparency is always important
When developing a CRM strategy, it's a good idea to incorporate a policy that describes how data will be handled, and clearly communicate this policy toward prospects and customers. Transparency is always of great import. It begins with asking for people's consent to use their data. When it comes to transparency, you expressly ask for people's consent, and don't hide it away in the small print of the terms and conditions. Transparency is also about the reason why you gather data, and how you intend to use it. So be very clear about the why and how. Also be very transparent about how someone can prevent you, as an organization, from using their data. If someone doesn't want you to use their data, then don't, and make it easy for people to make their wishes known to you.