The data-value exchange: customer data in a post-GDPR world

With GDPR now law, the way brands justify, capture and retain their customer data has changed. The disastrous ‘end-of-the-world’ scenario that was drummed into us over the last twelve months hasn’t materialised for brands who are already taking care of their customer data.

Instead, for the first time, data capture is concise, transparent and the consumer is more aware about what their data is being used for; which comes as comfort for many after highly publicised issues such as the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The biggest shift is that customers are now the ones that are in control of their data. At any time, they can request their personal data to be modified, held back from further processing or, deleted entirely. This means that brands can no longer assume or expect that they can simply take data from customers and hold onto it forever.

But, with a good data strategy, meaningful data collection and fantastic customer relationship management, valuable data collection isn’t dead. There are still plenty of ways to capture and use customer data to benefit all parties without breaking the law or damaging customer trust.

Offer value

First of all, ask yourself: how does the customer benefit from giving me their data? If you can’t answer that question, you shouldn’t be capturing their data. It doesn’t have to be complicated.

Customers need to feel that they are getting clear value. For example, tools such as a monthly email newsletter that informs customers about new products, upcoming sales or information about a recent purchase in exchange for an email address is a traditional yet straightforward, quick and useful way of data collection that benefits both parties.

Loyalty cards and schemes are another great way of gathering data for both business and customer. Waitrose’s previous Pick Your Own Offers (’20% off favourite items’) scheme for their myWaitrose loyalty card members would have been perfect for our post-GDPR world. Customers get money off their most favoured products in exchange for linking every transaction to their personal data, helping Waitrose with better future targeting.

As long as brands don’t abuse the data they are given by emailing more than expected or selling the customer’s records, then the data-value exchange will work for both parties.

Show respect

Brands who abuse the data they are entrusted with will suffer in the long-term. Not only are there legal risks, but public shaming will further damage their ability to use data to drive future sales. Ensure that you are open, honest and transparent about what your brand expects to use the data for to avoid any potential issues.

If you only expect to send marketing by post, don’t collect a customer’s SMS number. If you tell them you’ll only email once per month when you capture their data, stick to this. If you want to increase the frequency, contact them and ask permission first.

It’s a very simple rule, but something that can be overlooked. When a customer visits your store, after the initial “can we help you?” query, they don’t expect to be followed and endlessly asked the same question every thirty seconds while they browse. If you did this, they’d quickly leave and never return. The same applies for how you collect and use their data.

Deliver great experiences

Whatever you promise when capturing the data, it’s vital you then deliver. For example, if you capture a customer’s date of birth on the pretext of providing birthday offers, make sure that you actually give out a birthday offer.

Also, consider the experience of capturing data. Progressive data capture is critical to avoid overwhelming, or worse, scaring customers away. When a customer creates an online account to start shopping on your website, there’s no need to capture their address immediately. Instead, only request their address when they actually place an order you need to deliver to them.

Lastly, show your brand knows how to handle data by being consistent and making sure that all your touch points join up. If you greet customers by their name when they login to your website, ensure you do the same when they log in to your app.

By incorporating a good data strategy that delivers on promised value, brands can ensure they are leading the way in ethical and legal uses of their customer data, building the foundation for great customer experiences and customer-brand relationships.

Nicholas Blake is the head of data and digital operations at Armadillo CRM, who specialise in customer relationship marketing.

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