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GDPR: A heart-warming tale of good data

Our hero stands, exhausted, having traversed the entire circumference of the wall, only to find that there are no doors or windows. It is possible to hear their voices, but the people inside are unreachable. No matter how hard our valiant hero tries, it is impossible to penetrate the fortification and offer the captives a glimpse of a brave new world beyond the walls of… GDPR.

But fairy tales have happy endings and after two full years of implementation and a subsequent year of working in a GDPR world, the benefits of the General Data Protection Regulation are beginning to show themselves. The fears of losing all contact with customers have proven to be largely unfounded. The erosion of consumer confidence in advertising and data privacy has gone on for long enough that marketers now see that good data management is a rather more viable alternative to hope or hand-wringing. Not only may it help avoid the fines and reputational damage that result from breaching GDPR, but it may lead to the creation of new mutually beneficial datadriven relationships with consumers.

GDPR is not an ogre

It’s interesting to note that on the one hand, customers are far less trusting than they have ever been, but on the other they absolutely expect an individualised service as part of their customer experience. Yes, this is a little frustrating, particularly if you see GDPR as a scary, onerous force that imposes difficult change to your personal data collection practices. However, this isn’t a helpful way to look at the regulation. In fact, considering we are in the age of the consumer, the transparency GDPR brings should be part of your culture, starting with an open and honest conversation about what data the business wants to access and how it will be used to get a better understanding of customer needs. When you demonstrate a responsible approach to data and real relevancy in its interactions, it creates a virtuous circle of trust – and significantly improves the likelihood of new customers being willing to share their data in the future.

Good data management is a rather more viable alternative to hope or hand-wringing

It’s kinder for everyone to only ask for what you need

What you then do with that data is all-important. After all, what’s the point in having it if you can’t learn from it? Yet over half of all marketers don’t feel that they have sufficient data and insights to be able to form personalised relationships with their customers. GDPR requires marketing teams to be more selective and, dare we say it, thoughtful in their approach to customer information – only collecting what they really need and will be most valuable in the long term. This is ‘smart data’ and it can build a single view of the customer and pinpoint insights that can be applied across a business. In this regard, Customer Communications Management (or CCM) software is essential, as it helps marketers to unify their outbound customer communications.

Happy ever after

Ultimately, GDPR should never be viewed as an impediment to sales. In fact, the opposite is true – it actually removes some of the traditional barriers. By asking your customers to opt-in or ‘consent’ to marketing communications, you’re making sure that everyone you contact has a genuine interest in your brand. It’s common sense that if someone is happy to give you their personal information then they expect it to be put to good use and want to receive tailored promotions, rewards and updates. Simply, they are your precious, engaged customers. The ones who are happy to ride off into the sunset with you. And what a happy ending for everyone that could be.

Written by Steve Narancic

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