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GDPR: How sorry were you to see your customers go?

Helen Green
Leadership Collaborator
Quest Leadership
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It started, as so many important things do, with a whisper. The odd email dripping through into the inbox, asking for confirmation that what we had was a lasting relationship that could stand the test of time. Then the whisper became a shout; each email more desperate than the last, begging for a response and offering just one last chance for us to build a future together.

And that wouldn’t have been so bad if the early emails hadn’t been joined by a chorus of others; filling up our inboxes in a vast outpouring of neediness, desperate for confirmation that what we had was special and lasting. Some were from those we knew well and we were happy to provide the necessary reassurance. Others came from complete strangers or from those we met fleetingly many years ago and we had no idea why they want to get in touch after years of silence.

Still they kept coming. From that early whisper the chorus grew and grew until it became a torrent. And then on 25th May: nothing. Complete silence. Our mailboxes emptied and we went back to how we were before.

All that effort, all that intensity of activity and what have we got to show for it? Well okay, we now may be GDPR compliant but have we really expended all of that effort only to slide back into a silent relationship? Well in part, maybe yes we have. All of those individuals who ticked a box confirming that they were happy to stay on your database may not be so enamoured if you then start bombarding them with email copy.

But if you see customer relationships purely in terms of maintaining a database then maybe it’s time for a very big overhaul of your organisation’s culture and outlook. For the rest of us, GDPR provides a fantastic opportunity to add impetus to the customer relationship. After all, the message has been ‘we don’t want to see you go’ and people have responded positively. So our challenge to leaders is ‘what you going to do to build on that and turn GDPR from a database exercise into a positive experience’.

Turning GDPR into a positive experience

Let’s start with an important lesson from the GDPR exercise: customer data is part of the customer relationship. As a result, your IT department can no longer claim to be a purely back-office function. GDPR, more than anything else, has illustrated why customer excellence is the responsibility of the entire organisation.

So top tip number one would be to retune the focus of every individual and every department towards customer outcomes. Let’s have workshops, let’s have challenges and competitions, let’s have whatever works within your organisation in order to put customer experience at the forefront of every process and every decision.

Once you’ve got the ball rolling top tip number two is don’t stop there. Your people are now thinking customer outcomes so it’s time to challenge them to take it next level, to come up with innovative solutions which will drive differentiation and help your organisation to stand head and shoulders above the rest.

Perhaps most importantly of all, top tip number three says don’t delay. Over the last month or so you’ve reached out to people, you’ve asked them to commit to you and to trust you with their data. At now and you can build on that initial contact, cementing loyalty and challenging people to look again at your products and services. The longer you delay, the more the message turns sour; yes we wanted your data but we have little to offer you in return.

It started, as so many important things do, with a whisper. Are you going to let that whisper turn into a shout of joy at a strong and mutually beneficial relationship or fade into an echo of what might have been?

About Helen Green

Helen Green

Helen is a collaborator, a deadline demon and a diplomat.  She is often described by her colleagues and clients as the glue in their projects.  She can be contacted via www.questleadership.co.uk or E-mail: [email protected] .

After a degree in Hotel & Catering Management at Surrey University, she worked for 10 years with Whitbread, Bass and the Forte Group, gaining broad business experience in operations, communications, senior management and franchising.  This eclectic experience reinforced Helen’s belief in the untapped potential in people and the importance of strong values in business and has formed the foundations of her subsequent career.

Helen worked for 10 years in business consulting with Tom Peters Company, as senior consultant and Partner, before co-founding Quest Leadership in 2007.

During her consulting career, Helen has worked at all levels, with individuals and teams, to initiate and facilitate personal development.  Recent clients include: LSG Skychefs, Aim Aviation, Leica Geosystems, Texas Instruments, EnOcean, Gripple Ltd..

Helen’s competitive streak has driven her to compete at county level in badminton, and squash and equestrian eventing. Helen’s non-work interests centre on family, friends, cooking and sport.

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