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GUEST COMMENT Driving value from the GDPR: trust and integrity

GDPR lesson:honesty and transparency hold the keys to customer trust

In our previous article, we explored one of the key themes to emerge during the SAP Customer Experience’s Consumer Insights & GDPR Readiness road show – the opportunity for businesses to drive value from the GDPR. One of the ways they can do this is by using data to deliver hyper-personalised customer experiences and drive greater customer loyalty.

But there’s another way to maximise the value of data in a post-GDPR landscape: by using it to build consumer trust while recognising the growing need for brand integrity. As the balance of power between consumers and the brands they interact with shifts, it’s clear that consumer trust is lined up to play an increasingly crucial role for all businesses. This being the case, it’s transparency and honesty that we see being the key to businesses reaping long-term rewards and genuinely maximising the value of data in a post-GDPR age.

The consumer power shift

In reality, the balance of power between consumers and businesses has been shifting for some time. Today’s consumers are inundated with choice, which frankly means they can be pickier about where and how they shop for a product or service. What’s more, as new players and new technologies enter the field, consumer expectations are always changing – which means businesses need to stay firmly on their toes if they want to thrive (and even survive) in the digital economy.

One such example of this is when Canadian retailer, The Aldo Group, recognised the need for a shift towards omnichannel shopping. It turned to SAP Customer Experience to achieve it, and together, we built a solution that enabled more streamlined, scalable e-commerce operations, delivering greater flexibility and improved performance at peak traffic times.

Another thing to consider is that consumers are generally more clued up. Between the high-profile data breaches that have been happening in recent years, more recent events like the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica fiasco, or even the flurry of GDPR-related communications landing in their own inboxes in the run-up to 25 May 2018, they are merely getting savvier about their personal data. They want to know how it will be used before giving it away – and they’re aware that they now have the right to know.

So the scene was already set before the GDPR placed even more power back into the hands of consumers. It’s little wonder that many businesses were and are concerned about what the real impact will be on their ability to market and grow.

Be transparent, build trust

In this kind of landscape, building consumer trust up front is the only way forward. It is also the key to enriching data and strengthening customer profiles over time – as customers’ willingness to share additional personal information later on in the customer lifecycle will also be based on their level of trust.

There are several ways that a business can build trust, and in this respect, the GDPR is actually a massive opportunity for companies. In simple terms, it forces businesses to be more centralised in the way they collect and store their data, which gives them a unified view of the customer and makes it easier to deliver more consistent, positive experiences.

But on top of this is the need for transparency. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t lie to customers – if it’s a chatbot, for example, don’t pretend it’s live chat. If the consumer suspects they are being lied to, they’ll be quick to switch off, which of course has a business cost attached to it.

And businesses must make sure they’re faithful to the original need or want that a customer expresses, especially when entering their personal space through a mobile device (which is the case for over 51% of web traffic, according to the SAP Customer Experience Consumer Insights Report). After all, the main reasons for consumers parting ways with a brand, also revealed in this survey, are being spammed unnecessarily (57% global average), receiving too many direct marketing and sales emails (50%) and irrelevant content pushes (46%). Again, GDPR comes in handy here, as customers must now opt into marketing communications, making irrelevant experiences less likely.

In general, if you’re honest, open and transparent with customers – which is precisely what the GDPR supports – they’re far more likely to engage with your brand and stick around. Which sounds very much like the recipe for a successful business.

Author: Roland van Breukelen, UKI marketing direction for SAP Customer Experience

Image credit: Fotolia

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