Trust, Transparency and Consent: The Business Opportunity of GDPR

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It’s often been said that ‘trust’ is the new currency for business. That it’s the glue that binds customers to companies. If you can gain consumer trust in the way you manage their data, and ultimately their consent to use it in new and innovative ways, it can lead to valuable business growth. That’s why I think regulations like GDPR should really be seen as a positive opportunity. Regulations provide an impetus for us to be more transparent about how we use customer data, so we can build customer confidence and establish greater levels of trust. This will be increasingly important as business models become more digital and face rising threats from cybersecurity attacks, and as the media intensifies its coverage of data leaks and privacy scandals.

Trust can be subjective

Defining and quantifying trust, however, is not that straightforward. As consumers, we have different expectations from different organisations. The level of trust we demand from our bank or healthcare provider is quite different to what we just accept from the likes of Google and Facebook. We’ve come to expect that the big digital players will share our interests with retailers for advertising purposes. We accept that it’s a value exchange, allowing us to access their platforms, often for free. But our banks, our doctors, our employers? We expect far tighter controls from them on data sharing – likely because the negative impact of leaked bank details will outweigh that of a social media hack. And then there are all the companies in between. More often than not, we’re unaware of the level of consent we provide them. Which means they are at risk of losing our trust and confidence at any moment if they overstep the mark.

So there are nuanced variables around consumer trust. Getting it right depends very much on your specific operating model and the value exchange between your service and your customers’ data.

Clarity is key

Despite this variance in trust and expectation, there’s a common principle underpinning the levels of confidence, which is transparency. If you’re transparent in how you manage and share customer data, everyone will have a common set of expectations that help better understand the meaning of consent. This came to prominence during the countdown to GDPR, a regulation that has transparency and consumer interest at its heart. As the initial media exposure for compliance has moved into the implementation of processes and technology, organisations need to maintain their focus on creating a sustainable automated business model for GDPR, rather than refocusing on other priorities. If they adopt an opportunity vs. challenge mentality, the transparency requirement of GDPR presents three clear levers to drive growth:

  1. Improving the quality of service

If you’re transparent with customers on how you use their data, you can use it to improve your services. Having clear visibility on customer data can flag up processes that aren’t working or impacting service levels. You can then quickly intervene to fix the problem before customer satisfaction falls.

  1. Leveraging customer advocacy

With improved service levels, customers are more likely to recommend you to others – via word of mouth, social media and online reviews. If they have clarity on your data policies, that will increase their trust – which you can leverage to increase the share of wallet and attract new customers.

  1. Informing data-driven services

When you demonstrate good data accountability, you are more likely to earn your customers’ consent to use it in new and innovate ways. This is when data becomes truly transformative, enabling you to deliver personalised and proactive services that anticipate individual wants and needs.

In summary, I think that now GDPR is in legislature and organisations have moved past the initial fear of non-compliance, there is an opportunity to use the transparency agenda as a benefit. By showcasing data transparency, they can build greater levels of trust with customers. And by earning consent to use customer data in innovative ways, businesses can create products, services and experiences that provide greater differentiation and implicitly increase wallet share in today’s ever-competitive digital market.

Let me know your thoughts on this blog by posting a comment below. Also, if you're interested in reading Veritas's GDPR resources, which includes unique research and whitepapers visit this page.