We all know GDPR is coming. What concerns me is that the conversation about the most significant piece of compliance regulation in a decade, and one that will impact all of us in every aspect of our lives, from digital consumer and citizen to SME and large enterprise, is so simplistic.
Simplistic, and negative. ‘The fines are huge.’ ‘No-one’s done any work.’ ‘It’s all about punishing me as a brand for the smallest data breach.’
This won’t do, as it’s putting people off engaging properly with the issue. There is a penalty element in GDPR, but it’s been drawn up to help people. So let’s get away from the negative propaganda and look at the positives of GDPR – what it can unlock for you and your brand if you approach it in a) the right way and b) with some thought as to how it can be turned to your advantage.
Really find out about your relationship with your customers
First off, GDPR is about double opt-in – it’s about tying down with your customers exactly what data they want held. So, engage with your market – reach out and dialogue with your customers. Reassure them but also make explicit what the relationship means to you. And along the way, there is the opportunity to find out why the best customers keep buying and what would make them buy more?
Fully engage with your suppliers to open up yet more opportunity
There are also double opt-ins for the supply chain: we all have to be clear about what data we have about each other, and why. Are we exchanging information the right way? How could we do it more efficiently? It really is a chance to sit down and kill two birds with one stone – meet everyone’s GDPR commitments while also throwing light on the shape of the relationship.
Review contracts to find more value/do better deals
At EASY, we know – we’ve seen the data and met the victims – that poor contract disciplines waste valuable business opportunity. GDPR is about contracts, of course – as it’s about relationships and obligations. Vet them with a fine tooth-comb – what clauses could cause you problems with a regulator? Is everything in good order when it comes to processing and exchanging each other’s (and the customer’s) data? What do we both need to sharpen up our praxis here – a process that will help you spot gaps and ways to improve that will deliver one (or both) of the two main ways any business raises profit, by increasing efficiency or helping you drive down cost.
Do the groundwork on your data to ensure effective marketing automation
GDPR could be the best reason to automate. After all, what are you after but bullet proof processes and secure workflows that ensure the data of the customer is always as safe and trackable as it can be? Use GDPR work to look into what tools and processes could drive as much internal automation as needed. This could take the shape of sharp, data-driven ways of working with customers and performing marketing and contact outreach – putting some real science into this activity. Result: compliance levels to placate even the harshest regulator – and customers delighted by tight, transparent ways of communicating with them.
Make data privacy a differentiator
At the end of this year, we’ll all have seen the first headlines of GDPR fines and data breaches that will make Uber’s and Equifax’s penalties seem modest. You don’t ever want to be in that headline bracket. But I am not saying you need to get all negative – instead, flip it and make GDPR the carrot, not the stick. What about being able to say that you are the safest organisation in your market when it comes to data? How valuable would it be to say that your metrics for staff handling of customer information are the best in the business?
There are real competitive advantages here, in terms of being a better supplier, supply chain leader and chosen partner. So seize them: all it takes is some serious GDPR work and investment that will pay off if you approach GDPR as a way to improve.
In the next part of the discussion, I’ll be looking at how it can be used to improve things inside your own four walls – if you approach it the right way.
Good luck with your GDPR thinking and planning,
Howard Frear is Director of Sales & Marketing at EASY SOFTWARE UK