With the regulation taking effect from 25 May 2018, GDPR will replace the data protection directive from 1995. It’s initially been set up to help strengthen data protection for individuals located within the European Union (EU) – pushed forward by the European Parliament, the European Council and the European Commission. The regulation impacts many areas, but one strong element of it is that consumers will become more in control in their data and how it’s being used by businesses, while at the same time simplifying a myriad of data regulations that are currently in place.
Take a look at the overarching meaning of the regulation – it is quite simply putting consumers in control of their data. GDPR means it’ll be a lot harder for businesses to access customer data in the same way they’re currently doing so now. In future, there will be a lot more processes in terms of how data is recorded, accessed and maintained, and businesses will face more legal responsibility if they don’t comply. Businesses need to dedicate time to GDPR and dealing with the implications it will have on their business, but they also need to spend some time – very soon – looking at the bigger picture they’re actually being presented with.
Why GDPR brings better customer engagement
As this regulation centres on customer data, businesses should – instead of seeing GDPR as a “data blocker” – look at it as the path to the future of data, transparency and better customer engagement.
GDPR in fact presents the opportunity for businesses to “reset” how they use and collate data from their customers, enabling them to create better customer journeys and enhanced brand experiences. As a consequence of GDPR, the next few years will be very interesting indeed. Right now it’s fair to say that a vast number of consumers aren’t really aware of GDPR and if they are, they may not truly understand the power it actually gives them. They’ll have far greater control and will begin brokering what data businesses can and can’t have access to, when and how, and turning their data on and off whenever they like - or gradually take it away. Businesses will have to bow down and follow their lead.
Adopting a GDPR customer-focused mindset
But that doesn’t have to be the end. Businesses that truly embrace GDPR, change their mind set, show customers the value of why and how they’re using data, and give customer complete control, will be the ones that win. Consumer actions will ultimately depend on the relationship they have with a brand. The more transparent brands are with consumers, the more they’ll trust them, in turn allowing that brand or business to have more access to their data.
There will of course be technical challenges that come with GDPR, but over time, processes will becomes less intricate, especially as businesses will work harder and smarter with their data. There will be a data value exchange as businesses will be able to make their products and services better, keep customers happy by making services more efficient, and target them with the right offers at the right time. All of these element will create a much better customer experience and journey.
So how can the impact of GDPR help you gain better customer engagement and achieve better business benefits? Here are a few things you should have in the back of your mind:
- What consumers want
Unaware of the power they’ll have over their data after the European GDPR comes into force, there are further opportunities to get inside the minds of your customers. You’ll already have enough data and insights you can harness, so use those alongside targeted research to delve deeper. Find out the type of data consumers are prepared to share in return for personalised services and offers. For example, personal details, where, how and when they shop, what content interests them and how they like to engage with you. Get this right up front and you’re more likely to get existing and potential customers to allow more access.
- Make smarter decisions through the use of data
Putting customers in control of what data can be shared and used poses a risk to businesses that the breadth and depth of data collected will be reduced. By using data in a smarter, more open and transparent way will both mitigate risk and also create business growth through more effective product development, improved customer experience and more relevant marketing. If customers can see the benefit to them that their data is enabling, then trust and data accessibility should both grow.
- Review and enhance customer strategies
Align as a business on your customer strategy, and be clear on the data required to enable this and why it’s needed. Ensure the business understands the potential of data, and that the customer has a strong value exchange for allowing the access to and usage of their data. Use GDPR as a stimulus to ensuring there’s clarity on both sides, and a consistency of usage that gives a tangible benefit to all parties.
- Look after what’s important
Having access to a customer’s data is a privilege. It should be looked after securely, compliantly and with a clear governance process. Data storage and usage should be done in a secure way, with set procedures and access levels along with clear security guidelines and disaster recovery. Give clear responsibility across all business areas from the business users to the Exec, to democratise the use, ownership and accountability of data.
- Clear business alignment
Make sure as soon as possible that you have complete business alignment. Many will believe the responsibility of GDPR processes lie with one specific department or the data controller. In reality it’s very much a joint effort impacting all areas such as legal, IT and communications, so there’s a need to make sure everyone else sees it in this way too. If not businesses will find themselves trying to sort a bigger problem.
Right now GDPR is a certainty so businesses should think of it as a way to enhance your business and brand. Businesses can either work with it - use it as a catalyst to redefine the approach to personal data usage, drive real business and customer value, and ensure that the data industry has a long and healthy life – or simply let it work against you and tie you and your business up in regulatory knots.
Whichever approach you take, make sure you’re prepared for the next step – even if it’s simply understanding the real business benefits GDPR has to offer.