May 25th, 2018, a day like any other. For most businesses however, it was as if the day of reckoning was upon them. The EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation had come into force and with it, it brought drastic changes for every organization in every branch juggling with private data. Worried about how GDPR could potentially cripple their sales, companies worldwide now focus on the restrictions rather than the potential. But why? As GDPR urges you to pay more attention to your customer data, why not seize the opportunity to better use these data to optimize the user experience?
Since 2013 there have been almost 6 billion data breaches worldwide, reported IT consulting firm Gartner last year. As the possibilities of the internet and data captation grew, so did the risks. As the number of data breaches increased, so did people’s concerns for their privacy. Least to say that something had to be done. GDPR now enables consumers to demand companies to disclose or delete any of their personal data they hold. Among other obligations, these companies in turn must ask their customers the permission to use these data and inform them about their purpose.
You might have noticed the friendly emails cluttering your inbox asking to “Click here so we can stay in touch!” or “Do you want to stay tuned? Then do nothing!”. Forms the one after the other to confirm that you as a consumer allow this or that company to continue to register your private data in order to keep you posted about relevant offers and services. Often annoying indeed, but very necessary nonetheless.
Take a look at this form below. Most people will willingly fill in personal data like name and address, but when asked to provide their phone number and especially their email address, they hesitate. Because like everyone else, they don’t want companies to spam them with emails they don’t read about stuff they don’t want. Another reason why the new GDPR was put into force.
This doesn’t mean however that GDPR hinders you to use private data to optimize the user experience. On the contrary. Although many bicker about the possible negative effects of GDPR on their marketing activities, it can in fact be a blessing. And you should perceive it as such. As GDPR forces you to handle private data with care, it also gives you momentum to focus on customer satisfaction, to chart customer expectations and to build customer loyalty in doing so.
GDPR was conceived to establish a controlled framework in which digital working for customers and consumers can be supported. The regulation won’t interfere as long as companies indicate for what purpose they use their customer data and as long as they can motivate that they do so to better serve those customers.
When, how, why?
For you as a company the key is to do exactly that. Because that’s what customers have come to expect. They need you to create transparency in knowing how and when their customer data is being collected. And for what purpose. So put your customers at ease. If they are, they will be much more likely to cooperate and provide the information you need. Besides the why, how and when, relevance is the other important factor. If people hesitate to provide their personal data, relevant content is the trigger to get them over the line. Make sure you reach out with information that’s contextually relevant. In other words, communicate what they want to read on the moment they need it via the channel they prefer.
And when you communicate, do so digitally if possible. Through digital customer communications it’s easier for your customers to give feedback, state their preferences and for you to analyse all this information. As a result, you’ll be able to communicate with more relevant content the next time around. In turn your customers will feel valued and respected instead of annoyed by bad communications. They will be open to giving you even more personal info as they feel it will increase the relevance of your communications and the value for them as customers. That’s how digital client-focused communications allow you to boost customer satisfaction and build trust.
Achieving this takes time. Know that trust between company and customer, as in all relationships, takes years to build, only one mistake to break and forever to repair. Treating your customers like you want to be treated, will take you a long way.