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GUEST COMMENT Driving value from the GDPR: personalisation and loyalty

How can retailers utilise the GDPR to their own advantage?

The all-new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is finally upon us.

In the run-up to GDPR deadline day in May 2018, it was fair to say there was a degree of ambivalence about what the new data protection regulation would really mean for businesses. Certainly, it prompted all businesses to re-frame their relationship with consumer data – but this is no bad thing. If anything, we believe businesses have a big opportunity in this post-GDPR landscape: the chance to really start maximising the value they get from the consumer data they collect.

In SAP Customer Experience’s recent series of Consumer Insights & GDPR Readiness events, we explored how the GDPR can actually empower businesses to better manage the end-to-end customer lifecycle and deliver hyper-personalised experiences. We also looked at how, through this, they can grow their data subjects into richer assets, driving higher conversion rates and building stronger databases of loyal customers.

Improved data segmentation

The GDPR requires businesses to be more transparent when collecting customer data. Why do they need it? What will they use it for? And customers must now be asked to opt in rather than opt out of marketing communications. At the same time, today’s consumers are much more savvy about how their personal data is used. Whilst the ever-changing, multi-channel ways they’re interacting with brands means their expectations are high.

All of this serves to highlight that in the age of the GDPR, businesses must make sure they’re only collecting data that’s appropriate and relevant at the beginning of the customer lifecycle. For instance, if a customer’s address isn’t relevant to what they’re trying to do, don’t ask for it. It’s simple – and honest.

It’s little wonder that businesses were worried about the impact of GDPR. If restrictions are placed on how a business can gather data up front, what will it be left with? And will it stifle what it can go on to do with the data it does collect? But this concern is misplaced because implementing a more transparent approach to data collection could actually be the key to achieving a more granular and accurate level of data segmentation in marketing campaigns. In other words: it’s an opportunity for businesses to get better at contacting the right customers with the right product or offer at the right time on an increasingly personal level.

Case in point: The Palladium Group, a Spanish hotel company that works with SAP Customer Experience to do exactly that – improve itself and create longer-term value from its guests. Our data-driven solutions enable them to know their guests better and craft highly tailored experiences that convert them from guests to ‘lifelong fans’.

It has always been the case that the quality of a business’ data directly impacts how successfully it can sell. GDPR hasn’t changed that – but what it has changed is a business’ ability to nurture that higher quality of data. Which in turn means the chance to get better at marketing, drive more conversions, and see better ROI, whatever kind of business you are in.

Building better customer relationships

In SAP Customer Experience’s own Consumer Insights Report, we found that customers are more likely to remember (and share) positive brand experiences – so the best way to keep your brand front of mind is to deliver exactly that. If you can show customers that you are highly tuned in to what’s relevant to them, and can use that knowledge to improve the services you offer and the way you interact with them, it follows that you’ll build a better relationship with them.

Yes, it might be the case that the GDPR means obtaining ‘less’ data up front, but we believe being transparent and truthful, and getting your hands on the right kind of data, is actually your chance to deliver more personalised experiences from the very start of the customer lifecycle.

Setting off on the right foot could also lead to a reduction in one-off transactions, making you more likely to realise greater lifetime value from your customers. What’s more, a customer that trusts your brand and has consistently positive, relevant experiences is likely to be more engaged and more willing to share additional personal information with you later on, helping you to build stronger customer profiles. Which leads to a richer database and the chance to drive longer-term value from your customers.

Also key to supporting these positive customer relationships is the customer service function. The experience felt across all channels – whether it’s through email, live chat, social media, or otherwise – should be consistent. GDPR helps with this too, because it encourages businesses to build single, unified customer profiles, which in turn helps them to deliver personalised experiences across all points of contact, no matter which part of the business you’re in.

All in all, a re-framed approach to data – from how it’s collected and stored to how it’s used in marketing campaigns – puts businesses in a much stronger position from which to sell their products, deliver consistent and relevant customer experiences, and ultimately grow the business. Gone are the days of databases bogged down with reams of low-quality, irrelevant data; now is the time for businesses to maximise the value of what they know about their customers.

The businesses who really make the most of this opportunity, though, will be the ones delivering that value back to the customer, through the development and delivery of higher quality products, services and experiences.

Author: Roland van Breukelen, UKI marketing direction for SAP customer experience

Image credit: Fotolia

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