Now that we’ve made it into March – can you believe it?! – we need to talk data protection. We have two months left to prepare for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which will be enforced in May 2018. Here we shall provide a compacted GDPR overview for you.

GDPR: An Overview

Firstly, in case you have somehow managed to miss out on any of the communications about this, in a nutshell, GDPR aims to ensure that companies only hold enough customer data as they need to operate. Most importantly, companies need opt-in from their customers to store personal details. This means that our customers need to give us permission to access and utilise any of their data. Which, let’s be honest, is fair enough.

Whilst it sounds quite daunting for businesses, particularly with the threat of receiving GDPR fines of up to €20 million (£17 million) or 4% of annual global turnover for non compliance, we must keep our customers at the forefront of our minds throughout this, as always.

Customer centricity is the key to a smooth transition past the GDPR deadline on the 25th of

May. We love to maintain thriving relationships with our customers; being straight and clear on what we need to do to adhere to the regulation whilst managing the relationship is certainly the best way to go about it.

GDPR Compliance

Secondly, The Direct Marketing Association reminds us that giving control back to our customers over the information they share with us makes certain that any communications they do get from us should be happily received!

The GDPR provides a great opportunity for businesses to review which elements of customer data they actually use and what they are, shall we say, hoarding. Yes, we do use customer data to understand behaviour and preferences, but there may well be additional bits that we don’t need, so we can have a tidy up at our ends too!

Reaching out to our customers to not only inform them of the regulation but to encourage them to continue to develop their relationship with us doesn’t have to be as bland as you may think!

Some innovative examples

Take Manchester United, for example. They created a video with cartoon character versions of the players explaining what they would be missing out on if they weren’t on the mailing list, highlighting that they wouldn’t want their loyal fans to miss out on the latest news. This innovative idea can actually engage customers rather than simply sending an email with an option to opt in or out, and is topped off with a short and simple message – Stay United. Click on the image to see the video.

GDPR overview Manchester United James Robertshaw

Other companies have taken different approaches; after the data breach at Wetherspoons a few years back, they wiped their whole email database last year, realising it was not necessary for the business to have such information. To avoid another breach, they made the decision to stick to solely website and social media communications. This may have seemed bizarre, perhaps even an accident, but it appears to be working for them; they are managing less risk and still going strong.

Finally, for charities, the threat of a large fine could be detrimental to not only their reputation but the scale of work they can do and even their existence. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) recognises that donors and supporters are the life and soul of enabling them to do what they do, maintaining a customer centric approach. The RNLI have maintained an optimistic approach to their customers, offering an opt-in for further communications rather than an opt-out of current ones. They ask firstly if supporters would like to keep in touch, and then if so, through which channels. This will ensure that anything the RNLI sends out to those who opt in will be on the supporters’ preferred platforms and therefore most effective with an engaged audience.

Marketing Week explores the value of personal connection between brands and their customers as a driver to relationship building through GDPR.

To Summarise

Looking at these proactive examples gives us some hope that the regulation may not have to be so limiting and dull as we may have assumed. We, as businesses, need to be aware of what data we use and to ensure we have permission to do so. We hope that our GDPR overview has been insightful. There are a wealth of information and guidelines out there to help us, we have two months, so let’s get prepped!

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