Does your service organization know enough about you?
Increasingly, people are waking up to issues of privacy, as seen in recent cases such as Google’s gathering of personal data from wireless home networks (which Google admits but describes as an accident) and in the concern stated by US senators that Facebook is not being careful to protect the privacy of its users.
How about service organizations? Could they also hold private data about you, which could be harmful in the wrong hands? Certainly. Take your cable company, for example. They know how many set-top boxes you have in your home and what kind of programs you watch. When you set a service appointment, you implicitly hint when you won’t be at home; and when the technician arrives, he will see many parts of your home. You can form more scenarios of privacy breaches, depending on how much you tend towards paranoia and seeing conspiracies everywhere. It’s up to you to decide – does your service organization know too much about you? What steps is it taking to protect the information that it does have against misuse?
However, you should also ask yourself the opposite question: Does your service organization know enough about you? To see why, think of going to a medical appointment. Sure, you expect your doctor – and the whole medical organization that takes care of you – to protect your privacy, and there may be awkward or damaging results if they don’t. However, if they don’t have all the relevant information, the dangers could be much worse. Medical services, together with patients, have learned – sometimes the hard way – how important it is to inform, collect, deliver, preserve and use medical information.
Wouldn’t you want the same to be true for your relationship with the service organization? After all, it is time-wasting and annoying to have the cable guy come in, just to discover they didn’t have the right parts for your home setup, didn’t know that the problem you’ve reported has come up twice before, or didn’t bother to check whether your neighbors had similar complaints.
Borrowing from the medical-information world, then, we can see the need for customer and service information that is easily accessible by all parties involved – e.g. service customer, service provider, service subcontractor, equipment manufacturer – and which actively encourages all of them to contribute, share and use information. All the while, this must be balanced by privacy and security safeguards. This may involve technology solutions, but above all it requires a new mindset.
How far off is the service industry today from such a situation? What needs to happen to take it closer?