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Trust through transparency: how marketers can take advantage of GDPR

The one-year anniversary of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is now fast approaching. Since its introduction in May 2018, we as a nation have become more ‘data aware’ than ever before. The maximum fine for not complying with GDPR legislation is 4 per cent of global annual turnover, meaning businesses simply cannot afford to take any risks when it comes to data consent. GDPR has proved an all-round inconvenience and challenge for organisations.

On the other hand, consumers have now also become more vigilant about organisations who use our data, and why they are doing so. When it comes to marketing and the customer experience (CX), organisations are faced with a double-edged challenge. Customers want personalised experiences from brands… however, just 26 per cent of UK consumers are comfortable with brands having information about them that they’re not aware is being collected. For this reason, many marketers have considered GDPR to be among the most influential pieces of legislation in recent years.

Despite having more than two years to prepare for GDPR, companies are continuing to flounder. Many marketers, IT and legal departments are still faced with the difficult task of determining how best to move forward in an age when data is as much a liability as it is an asset. However, it’s not all doom and gloom from a marketing and CX perspective.

Why marketers have an opportunity to use data as a strong selling point

While compliance is crucial, it’s also important to understand how brands’ use of data makes customers feel, as that has a major impact on the CX. Today’s consumers want more personalised experiences, but at the same time have genuine concerns about the way brands are collecting, storing, and managing their data. The arrival of GDPR has presented marketers with an opportunity to start building trust with their customers by allowing transparency through communication about data strategies, and how an organisation is going to use the customer’s data.

Now is the perfect opportunity for marketers to have that open and honest conversation with themselves and consumers about how they manage data. , In doing so, the long-term benefits are clear -and marketers can take advantage of this when it comes to sales, as customers will want to buy into organisations where they can trust their data will be used in the right manner.

Customers and brands shouldn’t just transact, they should be forging a relationship. Luckily for marketers, they now have this platform to start forging these new strong relationships. A brand’s connection with customers is a delicate and evolving partnership that must be continually nurtured. Ultimately, that emotional connection becomes a key ingredient for customers to keep coming back.

Take a stand and evaluate how your own CX is performing within the context of UK audiences’ expectations and the broader market. If it’s not performing, use transparent communication around how you’re looking after data to start that relationship.

How marketers can strike the right balance with transparency, trust and data management

The key for successful CX is striking the right balance with transparency, trust, and data management. 75% of UK consumers feel like they’re treated as generic customers, rather than as a known individual in online interactions. What’s more, 64 per cent of customers said brands that should know them well, don’t. For marketers, it’s important to be aware of these concerns and be ready to meet them with transparency, IT security solutions, and a clear plan for what data is collected and how it will be used.

Companies need to ensure they are focusing on getting the CX right, as the need for clarity and transparency with the customer is paramount. There is a clear way forward, and it comes down to establishing trust with your customers, which can be accomplished through a mix of transparency and data management.

Firstly, businesses should ensure they are safeguarding their consumers’ data. Partnering with internal IT and security teams as necessary to ensure data compliance standards like GDPR are being met. Businesses should also embrace opt-in methods, so customers are aware and in agreement of their data being used. There should be no surprises.

Furthermore, for whatever data customers have agreed to share, businesses should provide something in return. For instance, if you’re collecting data on your website visitors, they should understand why they’re in a journey you’ve created. It should feel welcoming and relevant, and they should understand why you’ve brought them there. By creating ways to engage and show that you have their best interests at heart, you will create that much needed element of trust.

Lastly, it’s all about managing data efficiently and appropriately. Customer and prospect relationships shouldn’t be treated any differently. When meeting a new person, you might ask their name but not their birthday and email address straight away. Be cautious of crossing into unknown territory and being too forward. Once transparency and trust are established and the customer sees the benefit, then it’s OK to push for additional data – in a respectful manner of course.

CX technology post GDPR

Technology alone, at least in the form of most of today’s available CX platforms, isn’t the solution. 77 per cent of marketers feel that technology has made it more difficult to deliver personalised experiences. From a technical standpoint, brands are moving forward at a slower pace than desired. 91 per cent of marketers feel that if they better understood customer data, they could effectively automate parts of their experience. Yet 85 per cent of marketers reported that customer data is captured in multiple systems and lives in different silos. As a result, it’s difficult to drill into that information for insights and create real-time feedback loops that impresses customers.

Marketers are some of the toughest critics for CX and have big visions for what’s possible with the right people, technology, and data in place. Delivering a top customer experience is no small challenge – and in today’s landscape, high expectations and data concerns leave little room for error. Marketers want their technology working together to create one cohesive experience, and to ensure they’re fully compliant with regulations post GDPR.

Trust is the new currency in this digital age. Marketers have an opportunity to use data as a strong selling point, by addressing UK consumers’ concerns about how they’re collecting, storing, and managing individual data head-on.

By Sylvia Jenson, VP EMEA Marketing, Acquia

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