9 min read

Why Privacy-first is Crucial for Customer Success

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The Internet and social media have fueled the speed, access, and competition of, well, everything. More and more online businesses have sprung up, competing to acquire new customers. Pre-COVID-19, customer acquisition costs (CAC) increased 60% from 2013 to 2019! 


Source: ProfitWell

Then, when the pandemic hit, it all shifted into overdrive as the world was forced into lockdown, and people needed to find new ways to sustain themselves. It’s no longer cost-effective to rely solely on digital marketing. Organizations are bringing customer success into their business strategy, and a significant component of ensuring customer success is taking a privacy-first approach. As privacy regulations expand globally and individuals become increasingly aware of their privacy rights, SMEs like yours need to combine customer success and Privacy by Design to sustain business.  

What’s customer success? 

You’ve probably heard about customer success but aren’t sure what it means. Is it just a fancy buzzword for customer support? No. Although the two work in tandem, customer success is proactive while customer support is reactive 

Customer success is about anticipating your customers’ challenges or questions before asking you for help and providing the relevant solutions. The goal is to help them get maximum value out of their purchase by encouraging them to share feedback, champion your product, and retain their business. 

On the other hand, customer support aims to handle additional questions and issues raised by customers that you could not anticipate. 

Hubspot reports that “growing companies are 21% more likely than their stagnant counterparts to prioritize customer success”. They’ve got a comprehensive guide describing how to implement and manage customer success, but it is missing one key factor: A privacy-first approach. 

How does privacy-first enable customer success? 

Data privacy laws are emerging rapidly in the US. Whether you’re B2C or B2B focused, there’s no avoiding privacy compliance if you collect or analyze personal information. 

For B2C Companies  

A 2021 Cisco survey found that consumers value data privacy and want to protect their personal information. They’re more likely to trust companies that are transparent with how they collect and use personal data. Even if you’ve got customers who use your platform or buy your products despite a lack of privacy measures, you’re leaving the door open for competitors to gain an edge.  
Big Tech has already realized this. After Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, Apple quickly began pushing a privacy-first agenda. The company rolled out tools and software updates that prevent marketers from tracking users. In 2020, it added a popup to iPhone’s App Store that asks people if they want their app activities to be tracked for marketing purposes. The results to date highlight the demand for privacy: over 80 percent of iPhone users worldwide have opted out of tracking. 

Similarly, Google’s research team found that cookies deteriorate user trust. They’re investigating methods to continue providing targeted ads without infringing on data privacy rights. One idea is to allow marketers to advertise to groups of people with similar interests, rather than tracking individuals from site to site. Chrome will likely start to block trackers in 2023, so you need to rethink how you collect and use personal data while there’s still time. 

For B2B Companies 

As a SaaS company or other B2B provider, you might think that prioritizing privacy compliance isn’t critical since you’re not directly collecting personal information. Wrong! If your customers collect and process personal data using your software, you must be compliant as a third-party vendor. 

If you’re not compliant, not only do you risk legal trouble, but your customers may drop you from their vendor list, losing all the investment you put into acquiring them. If you become privacy-first instead, you will boost your customer success efforts and create a competitive advantage against other businesses like yours that are not privacy compliant. 

How do I orient my business to being data privacy-first? 

Becoming privacy-first is undoubtedly a significant investment but a worthwhile and critical one given the speed and breadth of privacy regulations coming to the US and globally. We cover privacy management and compliance tips more comprehensively in other articles, but here’s a quick breakdown to help you get started. 

  1. Do some preliminary research and decide whether you have the resources to implement a privacy program yourself. Is it more cost-effective and lower risk to engage a third party? This is usually the best option for SMEs without a dedicated legal team.  
  2. Designate one individual in your company who is responsible for all privacy matters, i.e., a privacy officer. 
  3. Weave privacy compliance into your company values. This will encourage employees to consider it in all aspects of your business, from HR to engineering to customer success. 
  4. Get training for you and your team in privacy compliance. Your employees must be aware of their privacy responsibilities and practice respect for customers’ privacy and data protection. 
  5. Audit your data and decide what you can collect and process and what you should retain or dispose of. 
  6. Create and then update your privacy policy regularly to reflect your business operations and practices accurately. Privacy laws are constantly evolving, so you need to stay updated with new developments. 
  7. Audit third parties you are engaged with (e.g., contractors, vendors, and service providers) to ensure that they are also privacy compliant. 
  8. Check the security and permissions for your systems. 
  9. Check out helpful privacy compliance tools. 

Customer loyalty is built on customers feeling that you have their best interests at heart. Demonstrating that you value their privacy and protect their data is essential for being proactive towards their wants and needs. That means implementing an effective privacy management program throughout your organization. If you need help with that, we’ve got you covered 

Once you’ve got your privacy management program in place, advertise it! Let your potential and current customers know that you’ve anticipated their data privacy concerns. Privacy compliance may be an issue they’re dealing with too! What a relief that they wouldn’t need to worry about you.  

There’s no question: Being privacy-first is now fundamental for customer success.