Is GDPR an opportunity to improve the customer experience?

As consumers, when it comes to customer experience, we have come to expect a high level of personalisation from the services we receive on a daily basis. From online shopping to banking to social media, until recently we have become accustomed to sharing our data freely without giving what it is actually being used for a second thought. Within digital marketing, this data is used frequently to deliver these tailored experiences.

But as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will imminently overhaul the way companies store the data of EU customers, it is reasonable for brands to fear the legislation will create a stumbling block for delivering individualised customer experiences. However, it is important to recognise that GDPR holds the consumer’s best interests at heart and has essentially been created to provide as many rights as possible. In other words, if the customer desires a personalised experience, that customer’s individualisation will not be greatly affected.

The data subject’s consent is crucial

Consent lies at the core of GDPR. Within the legislation itself, consent is defined as “any freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous indication of the data subjects by which he or she by a statement or by a clear affirmative action, signifies agreement to the processing of personal data relating to him or her”.

Therefore, ensuring a customer has the choice to opt in or, indeed, out, to the use of their data will become a vital first step in complying to GDPR. Once a customer has opted in, only then can their data can be legitimately drawn from to personalise their experience, inform messaging and reduce friction in their customer journey.

It will also be important for organisations to make sure that they have the correct tools to track and monitor a customer’s choice when it comes to opting in or out. It is therefore worth investigating the consent management tools on the market that will simplify these processes. After all, the cost of non-compliance – both in terms of fines and reputation – make investing in the right technology worthwhile.

Transparency is key

The question then becomes, how, when people mistrust even the mention of ‘data’, can brands gain a customer’s consent to ensure personalised experiences? Come May 25th, it will be absolutely crucial for brands to be completely transparent around how they store customer data and why. With recent data scandals still fresh in the consumer’s mind, it is as important as ever for organisations to start opening up about how their customer’s data is used.

Under the new legislation, organisations will need to state why that data is useful to them and be specific about how it will enable them to deliver a more targeted and seamless customer experience. That could be something as simple as explaining that a birthday is stored so special offers can be made to coincide with this, or why holding multiple addresses for a customer will aid the delivery process if a parcel can’t be delivered to your home address when you’re stuck at the office.

Delivering on promises

The time has come for organisations to actually prove why customer data is beneficial to customer service. And with a recent study by Engage Hub – exploring the fragile nature of customer experience – uncovering that 54 per cent of people have been driven away to the competitors as a result of bad customer experience, brands should look at GDPR as a way to rethink processes that are already in place.

If a customer chooses to opt out, then brands have ultimately not done enough to rationalise their data usage and its impact on providing the best service possible. Clear communication is foundational to success post-GDPR and guaranteeing customers receive the services they deserve.

As consumers become more aware and invested in the protection of their personal information, GDPR is not just important, but imperative to determine how relationships between brands and consumers evolve. For customer service, the main changes focus around how brands gain consent and demonstrate transparency. When these are achieved, customer experience will only become more tailored and streamlined.

The implementation of GDPR has the potential to be a key feature of the overall customer experience. Those who get their house in order and comply, will reap the rewards. For those who don’t, however, the sizable fines will not be the only problem they face.


By Nigel Linton, Digital Marketing Manager, Engage Hub

European Data Protection Summit will take place on June 3rd in Central London and will play host to 800 DPO’s, Security Professionals and senior business decision makers looking for; information, updates, clarity, advice and solutions. For more information, visit the website.