Market Research Overview
20 March 2017

Survey Privacy Statement, what it is and why it’s important

What happens to our data?

This is the question we have been asking ourselves, especially since digital communication has been living and thriving thanks to the circulation of sensitive information about us. My job requires me to think of privacy as something important.

Why? Well, it’s simple. Our respondents are the heart of CATI’s activity : there would be no data or research without them. Consumers are absolutely the main characters of the life of a brand. There are so many of us who do surveys, but it is the way of conducting them that makes a difference, a significant difference for both the respondent and customers. The companies that operate in market surveys have been proliferating and it is not always clear the border between their right to work and the protection of personal data. I think that since the number of this type of companies has been increasing there should be more transparency in privacy rules and regulations.

The key point is that research shouldn’t be improperly associated to other activities: this is not telemarketing! A market research company should spread the right image of itself by informing respondents about the reliability of the study in which they are taking part.

Privacy in the age of 2.0

Companies unwanted intrusions in consumers’ privacy hare becoming scaring. The speed of technological developments and the globalization of markets and communications, bring always new challenges concerning personal data protection and also to companies that deal with CATI. The extent of sharing and collecting personal data has increased exponentially, so on the one hand brands tend to prevaricate but this means that obviously consumers become demoralized.

Privacy has become one of the most problematic issues in the last twenty years of web & social. We all want to understand what happens to our sensitive data.

How can our data be transferred to third parties without our explicit and stated consent?

The telephone market field is sensitive to these issues and, so is for all those activities that involve the use of telephone communication. Often, consumers who are contacted by telephone, are not informed about the rights that affect them and this is very unfair, as well as disadvantageous for the client’s image: the stakes are high and there goes the professionalism of a company.

Our customers know that they have nothing to worry about, because in IFF we have a very strict policy about this subject: respondents are not only telephone numbers, but people whose confidentiality must be protected, as well as the possibility of choosing . We have always had a scrupulous management of data, with a great respect for the brand image.

Today I will explain how the Survey privacy statement of our company works and the way in which this determines the trust of customers.

How to defend the privacy of a respondent

The teleselling service is a very famous telephone pounding which is hated by many, it involves unwanted calls at all hours, it has made the impact between callers and respondent harder and it has increased his suspicion . This constant bombing includes everyone, but the inconvenience of a wild and aggressive marketing (which always offers “interesting offers, such as safe savings” on the landline phone bill, mobile phone and subscription for broadcasting services e.g satellite pay-TV) requires us from CATI even more caution and accurate information on the working methods.

Conducting an opinion survey without even informing respondents on why their answers have been collected, it represents a violation of the rules on the protection of privacy and we, from IFF, rigidly respect these regulations. The legislation to which we refer when we start an interview are shared with the respondent. We always ask if we can record it because without an authorization to data processing and especially without any permission from our respondent, it would not be possible to record data or to record the voice during the interview and, in case the client requests it, we always hand over the records that have been carried out. That is for example, what we do with Italian projects, we just follow this same accurate methodology.

Selection of master data to call

Is the respondent registered with the telephone preference service ? In this case we can’t contact them by telephone since he has expressed the wish to not be contacted for any special offer or any market survey. If the registration data verification allows us, we can then proceed with the telephone contact and immediately inform the respondent about privacy policies, such as Article. 13 of Decree no. 196/2003 which guarantees the anonymity and the use of the responses for only statistical purposes.

Always declare who is the holder of the data processing

The holder of data processing can be our commissioning client if he is the one who provides us the master data, or it could be our company, if it is IFF that provides it. This has always been declared. Plus, our callers always communicate to our respondents that they can registry with the telephone preference service through the following address and declare their wish not to be contacted for telemarketing activities, which still may proceed if, even unintentionally, the user is a member of other lists where he has given consent for data processing.

What happens instead with the foreign projects? We generally inform the respondent that, according to the laws of the country where he is located, his data will still be processed anonymously and only in aggregated form.

Records and the aggregate delivery

Here’s a note about recordings and its delivery: if the respondent that we have contacted does not provide us a clear authorization, we can’t delivery any record. The respondent has to know that the call may be recorded for quality purposes and may be selected and listened subsequently by third parties.

But what is an aggregate delivery?

The “aggregate delivery” is another way to handle data. The answers of the respondent are combined to all others and communicated to the end-user without providing the telephone number or the direct connection between the answers and the phone number.

Companies often handle marketing in a very aggressive and counter-productive way. They think, mistakenly, that putting pressure on the consumer is convenient, but it doesn’t work that way.

Companies like this buy low-cost complete lists of names, surnames and telephone numbers to contact by selling them products or services. The names, then, end up in a complex chain of companies who trade them among themselves and, gradually, all the details begin to increase: sex, occupations, preferences and social status. Certainly an illegal description, since the telesales legislation provides that only consumers who have expressly given their consent can be contacted. These lists, however, are mainly made up of numbers that appear in the public telephone directories, numbers that you can pick up illegally on the internet and names of those who, perhaps, fill out a form to take part in a web competition or activate a loyalty card and, without realizing it, also signed the consent to their personal data to be used for advertising purposes.

IFF does not sell anything to the respondent, it invites them to take part in market surveys, but since we do all this thorough the telephone, the privacy problem also concerns us who deal with CATI.

After all that has been said about this concept, now I hope you understand what is really important for us: privacy is essential and nothing will ever interfere in our willingness to work as  best as we can do for our clients but protecting also the will of the respondent if he will not want to be disturbed or asked his authorization to use his data.

And that is (also) why our clients trust us.

If you need help, write me

Ennio Armato (Branch Manager, Italy)

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