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PROFIT: Bryan Pearson, CEO of Airmiles, explains the secret to getting more information out of your customers

Photograph by Ronit Novak
Photograph by Ronit Novak

It’s amazing how much personal information your customers will share with you—but only if they trust you to handle this information with care. In The Loyalty Leap, Bryan Pearson, president and CEO of Air Miles operator LoyaltyOne Inc., recommends “taking the ‘pry’ out of privacy” by adopting the following practices for gathering and using client data:

  • Be transparent and reasonable: A client will be wary if you request information without revealing why you want it. But she’ll be happy to, say, let a hotel know her preference in pillows if it promises to put that type of pillow in her room.
  • Always get their permission: Customers will entrust you with higher-quality information if you respect their right to choose whether to share their personal data with you.
  • Respect and protect data: Be diligent in safeguarding the information you collect. Retain the data for only as long as you need it, strictly limit which employees have access to it and never sell it to a third party without permission.
  • Don’t wear out the customer’s trust: Clients count on you to use their contact information responsibly. Never abuse this trust by, for example, emailing them every day with messages of little or no value.
  • Win/win is always better than win/lose: Develop a mutual exchange by providing tailored offers, preferential treatment or other benefits in return for personal data. And deepen the relationship at a comfortable crawl/walk/run pace.
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