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GDPR you’ve met the deadline but what about the customer experience

GDPR might have seemed like a massive administrative burden over the past few weeks but it’s a wonderful opportunity to provide a better experience for your customers.

Over the past couple of weeks, for people in Europe, the emails have been relentless, the tone varying from wheedling and whimsical (‘Don’t leave us this way’) to brusque (‘Urgent action needed’) to something akin to bribery (‘Free conference place/€10 skincare voucher if you stay’).

Given that consent is only one of six bases for processing under GDPR, whether all these emails have been entirely necessary is open to debate. But for customers the onslaught has been so overwhelming, and for marketers the concern that they are compliant so all-encompassing that it’s been easy for most people to lose sight of a key fact: this unparalleled change in data protection law isn’t just about compliance and fines.

Rather, GDPR will positively help marketers to strengthen customer relationships. In other words, it’s a benefit, not just an obligation.

Some customer experience, you might say, in the face of this deluge but consider this. I have a Yahoo mail account. I use it purely for subscriptions. Today, the inbox count exceeds 99k. Most of those communications are from organisations who have taken my request for a single white paper or single one-off purchase to mean that I’m happy to hear from them (and ‘partners’) indefinitely about almost anything. Some of them are from companies I have no recollection of engaging with ever.

To be honest, I don’t open that inbox all that often.

On top of that, there’s the question of exactly what those organisations are doing with the data. Is it protected? What else are they using it for? Who are they selling it to? Thanks to GDPR, for Europeans those concerns will stop. It’s reset time.

For consumers, that’s wonderful. And timely too, given increasing concerns about privacy and misuse of data arising from the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandals.

For marketers that’s also a good thing because people are far more likely to engage with a marketing message that they want to read and have actively opted in to receive, from an organisation they trust. It’s hardly surprising to read that research carried out by Mailchimpshowed that people opened a far higher percentage of emails concerning topics they positively care about (sports, religion, hobbies) compared to topics that they most likely don’t such as vitamin supplements.

Even organisations that are not based in Europe benefit too because GDPR’s reach is global. If an organisation deals with EU resident data or data concerning EU visitors or even EU citizens who aren’t even resident in Europe, it falls into scope.

In short, it’s an opportunity without equal to build a balanced and personalised relationship, based on consent and trust, with both customers and organisations benefiting.

The customer gets a radically better experience of relating to the organisation. For a start, the unbundling of consent means that customer data can now only be used for purposes that customers have actively selected for themselves. Plus, they have the right to find out what data the organisation holds about them and what is being done with it. Marketing necessarily becomes more relevant and more engaging.

If customers aren’t happy, they can ask for their data to be erased or transferred. The result is that the balance of power in the relationship has shifted dramatically. The customer is empowered and the aggravation level they experience from their relationship with the supplier decreases significantly.

Secondly, security and privacy by design mean that the customer can trust that their data is better protected, thanks to measures such as pseudonymisation. Data protection must be built into products and services from the outset. Greater emphasis on third party processor accountability further increases protection. Breach reporting requirements of 72 hours after discovery mean that no longer will organisations be able to hide massive data losses for months on end.

All this means that the organisation is able to fundamentally deep clean its database, resulting in better targeted, more accurate data with better performance metrics. A new emphasis on privacy and security, even if it is obligatory rather than spontaneous, reduces the probability of dealing with expensive and disruptive security problems.

Overall, GDPR is a win-win. An enhanced user experience means that your customers are happier and more engaged and isn’t that what you wanted all along?




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