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Myth 6: Customers do not want to give us information about themselves.

In today's world there are well-publicized and growing public concerns regarding the use of personal information. These include, but are certainly not limited to, real issues of invasion of privacy, breach of confidentiality, identity theft, and plain old irritation at being contacted by someone who has obtained one's phone number, postal address, or Internet address.

However, customers also place a high value on the benefits and value they can receive (see Myths 4 and 5 above) from targeted, individualized, and customer-specific interactions. For example, the term tailored and personalized crept into their vocabulary by the late 1990s. During the early 2000s, personalization moved from a distant rumble of occasional customer delight to a roar of expectations. And to receive the benefits of targeted, personalized products and services customers must now enable their vendor with relevant data about themselves. In return, the firm must secure the data (with controlled, employee-only, and role-appropriate access) and then use it only for the purposes for which it was provided. With these assurances, and some well-earned trust in your brand, customers will share information with you. This is a highly volatile and critical issue that represents both opportunity and risk to the extreme. Personalized interactions can literally become your most powerful loyalty generator, but if you misuse customer information and lose their trust, you can lose not only your customers, but also your market.

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