Despite privacy concerns, consumers will still share their data with companies if they are offered certain benefits, according to a recent study. Nearly half (43%) of more than 1,100 consumers surveyed said that they would offer up their personal data to a company in order to save money through promotions or discounts, the study from YouGov and customer experience company [24]7 found. And 39% of consumers said they would share their information if it meant solving customer service problems faster.

Cost savings were the top reason consumers shared personal data–including email, age, location, interests, and previous purchases–across all age groups surveyed. Millennials were slightly more willing to share their data for deals, at 49%, than GenXers (44%) and baby boomers (38%).

The study also looked at how consumers perceived personalized messages from companies in efforts to get them to share their information. Relevancy was the primary reason consumers embraced personalized marketing messages, the survey found, while off-target or irrelevant messages were a primary cause of annoyance for 29% of consumers.

However, personalized messages can backfire: Some 32% of consumers said that personalized messages felt like an invasion of privacy. In terms of overall feelings toward companies using personalized data, some 28% of consumers said “I don’t like it when companies have my information when I don’t explicitly provide it.”

SEE: Data Protection Policy (Tech Pro Research)

“If used correctly, consumer data can play a valuable role in improving the customer experience, but this information should be used wisely to avoid alienating customers,” said Scott Horn, chief marketing officer of [24]7, in a press release. “The key to a great customer experience is dependent on companies’ ability to understand a consumer’s true intent. If companies understand precisely what a customer is trying to do and where their interests lie, they can deliver a more personalized interaction that doesn’t feel intrusive.”

Consumers also noted differences between industries, in terms of how their personal data is used. Respondents gave the highest marks to insurance companies and financial services companies, with nearly half of consumers saying these industries make good use of their shared information to deliver a better customer experience.

The telecommunications industry received the lowest ranking, with only 38% of respondents saying they believed their information was put to good use in that sector. And 53% of respondents said they were doubtful that providing additional personal information to cable, phone, and internet providers would improve their experience.

The more data consumers share, the higher their expectations about their customer experience, the survey found. Almost half of those surveyed (47%) said they had higher expectations about their customer experience with companies as a direct result of sharing personal information with those companies. This was correlated with age: 59% of millennials reported having these higher expectations, compared to 47% of GenXers and 38% of baby boomers.

Though consumers are willing to share personal data to gain benefits, they remain cautious about when and why they do so, the survey found. Some 22% of consumers said they were open to sharing data after buying a product or service, in exchange for better customer service in the future. And 17% said they only want to share information if they encounter an issue that requires resolution.

However, trusting companies to protect personal data remains an issue, the survey noted: 27% of customers said they would not share their information at any point, for any reason.

The takeaway? If you’re going to ask customers to share their personal data, be prepared to use it to offer them a better experience, and keep them satisfied with your business. Also, ensure that their data is well protected.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

1. A new report from YouGov and [24]7 found that nearly half of consumers said they would offer their personal data to a company in exchange for discounts or a better customer service experience.

2. Consumers said insurance and financial services companies made the best use of their personal data in terms of improving their experiences, while telecommunications companies received the lowest ranking in this regard.

3. Customers that do provide personal data to companies have higher expectations for those companies in terms of customer service.