Recent allegations of NSA spying remind brands and marketers that customers' concerns about privacy is at an all-time high. Although social media and online communities make it easier than ever to reach customers, asking for input isn't enough to ensure candid feedback in the post-Snowden era.

So how can you make your customers comfortable enough to be honest with you?

The following are good starting points.

1. Listen before you ask

As marketers, we want more data, more information, and more insights. We're eager to ask questions—and we want answers now.

Keeping in mind people's concerns about privacy, however, customer engagement shouldn't start by bombarding people with questions.

A better approach is to start with listening. Big Data—including what you hear on social media—can provide clues on what you should be asking people in the first place. Tune in to find out what people care about so you're not just asking about the known unknowns, you're also asking about the unknown unknowns.

By listening first, marketers are less likely to ask for information they should already know and they are more likely to come up with relevant topics that can help inform business decisions.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Tyler Douglas

Tyler Douglas is the chief marketing and strategy officer of Vision Critical, developer of a Cloud-based customer intelligence platform that allows companies to build engaged, secure communities of customers. He is also the author of the e-book How to Keep Your Customers From Cheating on You.

LinkedIn: Tyler Douglas