data culture
November 8, 2018

What is the customer reaction to GDPR telling us about our data culture?

By Peter Lavers

It’s been several months now since we’ve talked about GDPR, so has it changed your data culture?

Having previously shared 2 blog posts on “how to avoid being bitten on the bum by GDPR“. We also shared posts on a GDPR toolkit & final priorities when nearing the deadline.

In the run up to GDPR, I helped a few firms understand and audit their GDPR readiness. So, 6 months later feels like sufficient time to assess the impact of initial compliance. How has consumer behaviour changed & what does this reveal about businesses data culture?

To help us take stock, I am delighted to welcome back guest blogger Peter Lavers. He has recently completed a review of research on this topic, sponsored by SAS. Over to Peter to share their findings and his reflections…

Time for research on data culture

I am delighted to be recognised by SAS as an influencer in the realms of Customer Experience, value analytics and CRM. In my collaborative role with them I have been reading the results of their recently published survey: “GDPR: The right to remain private”. What businesses need to know about consumer attitudes to GDPR rights. Plus, a useful supporting infographic.

This research is timely!

Irrespective of the GDPR legislation, data and privacy breaches are hot news across all sectors. Check out ComputerWorld UK’s article “The most significant UK data breaches”, or BBC News’ ongoing log of data breaches.

Do consumers care about their data?

It should not be too much of a surprise, given the media attention, that one of the main findings of the report, is that 56% of consumers have already exercised their new rights or plan to do so within the next year.  This is summarised in a press release.

The research asked 10 very pertinent questions. Results from the UK and Ireland are detailed for each question, in the appendix of the report. I was fascinated to see that across the board, in the general questions (2, 3, 4 & 7), about a third of UK respondents answered with “don’t know” or “don’t care” type answers (it’s different for Irish respondents).

Some of us involved in the Data/Insight/Marketing/CRM world might be amazed that everybody isn’t fired up by GDPR. But, for a piece of “techy” legislation, these engagement rates are very high. Consider how busy everybody is and how much communication & information we now have to consume, in today’s connected, digital and instant environment.

What’s our customer data culture?

As marketers, database managers and customer experience professionals,  we have got to treat our customers’ data fairly. Handle it securely, and with respect, however engaged they are.

The stakes are too high to make assumptions about the robustness of our systems, processes and supplier/partner agreements. I would highly recommend that companies take a pro-active stance regarding GDPR. To embrace the spirit, as well as the letter of the law.

The regulator and the media are on the prowl, but this isn’t just about “big stick”. A positive culture, of doing the right thing for customers, will always generate long-term benefits. These include trust, loyalty, advocacy and sustainable business performance.

Whose data culture do you trust?

The survey’s findings (regarding specific sectors and tolerance of decisions, mistakes, third-party sharing and breaches), all point to the vital importance of trust.

It never ceases to amaze me that company executives seem to only talk about trust after they’ve lost it!

Like most consumers in Europe I have received numerous GDPR-related emails. Loads of correspondence in recent months, from organisations that I’ve engaged with over many years. From big retailers to the local mechanic who services my wife’s car.

Like many, I used these prompts to either confirm my permission or to get myself removed from their mailing lists. Effectively cleaning up my personal inbox. A few of these simply weren’t relevant any more (children grown up now, etc.). But, for the vast majority my decision to continue to engage with these companies came down to how much I trusted them.

This is where the SAS research hits the nail on the head. Its questions reveal it’s not just general trust I’m talking about.

It’s trust that my data will be respected. That I won’t be spammed with irrelevant offers. That my value and loyalty will be recognised in decision-making. That when mistakes are made, they will be acknowledged and transparently resolved. In essence this is trust in their data culture, as much as their practice.

What are your communications actually saying?

It’s worth pausing to reflect.

Are your communications giving these trust-building messages?

Or are you inadvertently saying “we don’t actually care who you are, we just want to sell you stuff”?

Especially if it’s part of your loyalty programme!

Loads has been written about real-time personalization, location-based services, IoT/connected devices, and segment of one” direct marketing. It’s time to make it real before you lose the battle for trust. But in doing so you’ve got to be authentic and insight-driven.

Trying to achieve these things based on poor quality, siloed data will just make you look stupid!

It has never been more important to manage joined-up data and insight. Doing so gives multidimensional benefits:

  • competitive advantage;
  • loyalty and trust;
  • engaged customers;
  • reputation;
  • sustainable growth;
  • share of wallet;
  • and of course, the avoidance of regulator sanction!

This is where companies like SAS can help if you’re serious about leading an insight-driven and trusted organisation. (This blog was originally published as part of the SAS Collaborators Programme)

Do you need to revisit your data culture & comms?

Thanks to Peter for that wise advice. I felt his post usefully brought together advice we’ve previously shared on CX, GDPR, culture, customer insight & data management. There really are many parts to coordinate. But, I agree with Peter, the key to it all is your culture.

What are you doing about this as a leader? Are you setting the tone for a new data culture? If you think as culture as “what happens when  nobody is watching“, do you know the current reality?

If you have experience to share on this topic please do share below or on social media. I firmly believe that Customer Insight Leaders have a key role to play in building such a data culture.