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Consumer data: Marketers must look “beyond the law” to win trust, says DMC

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30th Jan 2015
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The Direct Marketing Commission (DMC) has published its annual report, with a warning to marketers about the current attitudes towards the use of consumer data.

While the DMC found an overall decline in complaint levels among its 1000+ member organisations, it also confirmed investigations into 103 alleged breaches of its membership code over an 18 month period to June 2014, with the majority of complaints received from consumers about invasions of data privacy.

As a result, the industry watchdog’s chief commissioner, George Kidd has called on marketers to “look beyond the law” in their use of consumer data, and that complying with “consumer wishes” was of equal and even greater importance, in maintain long-term trust and avoiding future privacy breaches:

“The overwhelming majority of marketers understand the law and know what they can and can’t do when it comes to using people’s data,” Kidd states.

“However, there are many who play fast and loose with the rules. As the nature of the complaints show, consumers don’t focus on whether or not marketers are or are not breaking a law or regulation. They are angry when they feel deceived or misled when their requests for privacy are ignored and when they think their personal information is being sold on.

“Marketers therefore must look beyond complying with the law and standards of best practice to complying with their customers’ wishes. Doing so is essential for creating effective marketing, earning consumer trust and preventing complaints. Following the DMA Code is the route to putting their customer first at all times.”

The DMA code, the one-to-one marketing industry’s self-regulatory code of best practice, requires its members to adhere to four key criteria:

Respect privacy – Act in accordance with your customer’s expectations

Be honest and fair – Be honest, fair and transparent throughout your business

Be diligent with data – Treat your customer’s personal data with the utmost care and respect

Take responsibility – Act responsibly at all times and honour your accountability

The DMC has confirmed that two companies were expelled from DMA membership following investigations into breaches of trust between April 2013 – June 2014.

Of the total 103 investigations alleged to be in breach of the DMA code, the DMC’s annual report states that over 94 were related to data, privacy and quality concerns, as opposed to customer service or contractual issues.

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