The Art and Science of Consent for Enterprises

By Eric V. Holtzclaw | You’ve seen it before: the long form you must sign before participating in a potentially dangerous activity, the checkbox at the bottom of an end user agreement before you can use a new piece of software, the numerous documents that are part of every significant financial purchase.

 

Companies develop these laborious processes in response to a regulation, an issue, or advice from a lawyer. Unsurprisingly, this process often involves changing regulatory concerns as dictated by organizations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), ePrivacy, or the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). In hopes of addressing new regulations quickly and efficiently, enterprises err on the science side of consent collection while ignoring the art of consent collection.

 

 

The science of consent collection

 

The science of consent is the technology, data, and regulations surrounding such collection. These elements are well-defined, understood across any enterprise, trackable, and can be readily reported both inside and outside the enterprise.

 

While there is nothing inherently wrong with viewing consent this way, the downside is that enterprises are only ‘checking the boxes’ or doing the bare minimum to achieve a passing grade.

 

In European countries, many companies are more mature in their view and further along on the timeline of allowing customers to provide consent. Organizations realize that to get a more significant take rate on collecting consent, they must marry preference with consent management to offer an incentive.

 

By adding preferences to consent, enterprises allow customers to be specific with the types and modes of communication they want to receive. This increased specificity is a building block for trust between companies and customers, ultimately establishing and bolstering a long-term relationship.

 

To achieve the highest return on investment for addressing mandatory compliance requirements, organizations should include a focus on the art of consent and preference management.

 

 

The art of consent collection

 

Enterprises must approach consent with the goal of empowering customer conversations, focusing on driving more granular preferences across business units, applications, products, communication channels, and desired frequency.

 

Instead of requesting consent via one single checkbox or a long comprehensive form, consent is spread thoughtfully throughout the customer journey. Consent and preferences are collected from the customer at points that are significant, such as during registration or when they are looking for new products.

 

After consent is collected and communications are received, organizations that think of consent in broader terms provide well-designed and tailored forms that allow customers to opt-down from communications they are currently receiving. These forms should be easily accessible from any customer touchpoint.

 

For consumers who do not engage with outbound communications or customer-driven actions, companies may offer alternatives to frequency and types of communications. This prediction of a potential change in consent increases the likelihood of maintaining some level of consent for continued communications.

 

Privacy technology must be built as industry-specific and problem-specific. For example, a financial services company needs the ability to collect consent across multiple channels such as in-person interaction, while an ecommerce-only company does not.  A one size fits all approach will fall flat and ultimately negatively impact a company’s consent collection initiatives.

 

The best way to successfully combine science with the art of consent and preference management is to review and evaluate implementations based on real-world use cases. Spend time on competitive websites, follow the ‘unsubscribe’ link in emails and study best practices for customer engagement. Combining this research with an understanding of why your customers provide consent and how they benefit from doing so over their relationship with your company is the foundation for a winning approach.

 

About the Author

Eric V. Holtzclaw is Chief Strategist of PossibleNOW. He’s a researcher, writer, serial entrepreneur and challenger-of-conventional wisdom. PossibleNOW leverages powerful technology and industry-leading expertise to enable companies to listen to customers, remember what they like and dislike and respond in useful, personalized ways. Its enterprise consent and preference management platform, MyPreferences®, collect customer and prospect preferences, stores them safely and makes them available to any other system or application in the enterprise.

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