Show of Good Faith
It's more important than ever to show customers you'll keep their information private.
It's getting hard for consumers to hide, as "spyware" programs invade personal computers and large retailers such as Wal-Mart move toward Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, a wireless "bar code" that lets retailers track inventory even after it's left the store. Even paying in cash may not guarantee customers anonymity much longer: The European Union is adding RFID to the Euro. If successful, RFID could be added to U.S. currency within a few years, making it possible to track money from the ATM to the cash register.
Not surprisingly, consumers are wary. In a February 2003 Harris Interactive survey of 1,010 adults, 54 percent felt that most businesses don't handle customer information "in a proper and confidential way," and some 53 percent said that existing laws and business practices don't provide enough privacy protection.