The New Year has already arrived, meaning that there are fewer than four months until the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) – a set of laws that put ease of access, ease of understanding and ease of communication front and center – also become a legally binding reality for businesses.
On May 25, 2018, when the GDPR officially comes into force, it will return power to European consumers when it comes to how businesses collect and exploit their data. All of which means there could be huge implications for companies attempting to optimize customer relations or targeted marketing campaigns.
However, rather than representing an obstacle, according to Emmanuel Richard, director of customer relations consulting firm Extens Consulting, “GDPR should be seen as an opportunity. “Being in compliance is a great opportunity for organizations to demonstrate that they care about their customers and their customers’ data” he says.
Indeed, the regulations will provide a perfect moment for brands to examine their current approach to delivering their customer experience, especially in terms of ease.
For example, Article 12, one of the GDPR’s flagship measures, is to make certain “Information that is communicated to customers is: transparent, concise, understandable, easily accessible, in clear and simple terms” points out Thibault Lancrenon, a lawyer specializing in Intellectual Property.
In other words, the GDPR will push companies towards ease – whether it’s ensuring citizens have ease of access to their personal data ; or the ease with which consumers understand how this data is being used.
“Therefore, not going in the direction of ease is to go in the direction of non-compliance.Ease becomes the only option for businesses that want to follow the letter of the law.” adds Thibault Lancrenon.
Ease: a trust and customer experience enhancer
Considering the masses of data collected by companies and the increasingly complex ways in which it’s processed, asking “How can we explain it simply and concisely to customers?” is a very valid question. And the only way to answer it is for companies to re-examine what personal data they collect and treat and to find an easy-to-understand narrative form for explaining it to customers. In other words: articulation and access
Articulation: A story doesn’t have to be a book. This new openness can lead to new ways of storytelling – videos, animated graphics or static but clear infographics – as long as the message is clear and concise. For example, France’s largest bank, BNP Paribas has opted for a simple infographic to take customers through the data collection and processing journey, while state broadcaster France TV created a short video that leveraged many of its best known presenters and TV shows.
Access: Explaining how data is used is only half of the story, the other half is ensuring your customers can access and scrutinize it, even if it’s internal data and even if it isn’t stored in-house. This could mean re-writing internal processes to make certain that employees have access to this data (on behalf of customers) and have the necessary clearances to edit it, while maintaining security.
“To reinvent the means of explaining to citizens how their data is used, is to imagine providing different levels of information,” says Emmanuel Richard, “So, a very simple first step would explain the basics of a data processing, but, if he or she wants, the user will be able to dig further by consulting more detailed documents. […] It will also be necessary to take into account that the profiles of the various users will be very different to each other. Thus, it could be relevant to frame the explanations in different ways depending on whether the user is a child, an adult or senior, etc.”
Focusing on ease and on transparency in data processing will have a positive impact on the customer experience, but also on business performance – to do otherwise would be to risk a huge loss of consumer confidence in your brand. According to an Accenture Strategy study, two-thirds of consumers have greater confidence in brands that use clear language in their data processing policies, and 74% are ready to stick to a brand that is committed to protecting their data.
 Accenture Strategy, 2017 et Consumer Privacy Trust & IPSOS, DMA Survey, 2016
We will soon release our White Paper about GDPR! Stay tuned.