Sylvia JensenSylvia JensenMay 20, 2019


The one-year anniversary of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is now fast approaching.  Since its introduction in May 2018, we as a nation have become more ‘data aware’ than ever before. The maximum fine for not complying with GDPR legislation is 4 percent of global annual turnover, meaning businesses simply cannot afford to take any risks when it comes to data consent. GDPR has proved an all-round inconvenience and challenge for organisations.

On the other hand, consumers have now also become more vigilant about organisations who use our data, and why they are doing so. When it comes to marketing and the customer experience (CX), organisations are faced with a double-edged challenge. Customers want personalised experiences from brands… but just 26 percent of UK consumers are comfortable with brands having information about them that they’re not aware is being collected. For this reason, many marketers have considered GDPR to be among the most influential pieces of legislation in recent years.

Despite having more than two years to prepare for GDPR, companies are continuing to flounder. Many marketers, IT and legal departments are still faced with  the difficult task of determining how best to move forward in an age when data is as much a liability as it is an asset. However, it’s not all doom and gloom from a marketing and CX perspective.


Why marketers have an opportunity to use data as a strong selling point

While compliance is crucial, it’s also important to understand how brands’ use of data makes customers feel. Today’s consumers want more personalised experiences, but at the same time have genuine concerns about the way brands are collecting, storing, and managing their data. The arrival of GDPR has presented marketers with an opportunity to start building trust with their customers by allowing transparency through communication about data strategies, and how an organisation is going to use the customer’s data.

Now is the perfect opportunity for marketers to have that open and honest conversation with themselves and consumers about how they manage data. In doing so, the long-term benefits are clear -and marketers can take advantage of this when it comes to sales. Ultimately, customers will want to buy into organisations where they can trust their data will be used in the right manner.

Customers and brands shouldn’t just transact – they should be forging a relationship. Luckily for marketers, they now have this platform to start forging these new strong relationships. A brand’s connection with customers is a delicate and evolving partnership that must be nurtured continually. That emotional connection is essential for customers to keep coming back.

Take a stand and evaluate how your own CX is performing within the context of UK audiences’ expectations and the broader market. If it’s not performing, use transparent communication around how you’re looking after data to start that relationship.


How marketers can strike the right balance with transparency,  trust and data management

The key for successful CX is striking the right balance with transparency, trust, and data management. 75 percent of UK consumers feel like they’re treated as generic customers, rather than as a known individual in online interactions. What’s more, 64 percent of customers said brands that should know them well, don’t. For marketers, it’s important to be aware of these concerns and be ready to meet them with transparency, IT security solutions, and a clear plan for what data is collected and how it will be used.

Companies need to ensure they are focusing on getting the CX right, as the need for clarity and transparency with the customer is paramount. There is a clear way forward, and it comes down to establishing trust with your customers, something that can be accomplished through a mix of transparency and data management.

Firstly, businesses should ensure they are safeguarding their consumers’ data. Partnering with internal IT and security teams is necessary to ensure data compliance standards like GDPR are being met. Businesses should also embrace opt-in methods, so customers are aware and in agreement of their data being used. There should be no surprises.

Furthermore, for whatever data customers have agreed to share, businesses should provide something in return. For instance, if you’re collecting data on your website visitors, they should understand why they’re in a journey you’ve created. It should feel welcoming and relevant, and they should understand why you’ve brought them there. By creating ways to engage and show that you have their best interests at heart, you will create that much needed element of trust.

Lastly, it’s all about managing data efficiently and appropriately. Customer and prospect relationships shouldn’t be treated any differently. When meeting a new person, you might ask their name but not their birthday and email address straight away. Be cautious of crossing into unknown territory and being too forward. Once transparency and trust are established and the customer sees the benefit, then it’s OK to push for additional data – in a respectful manner of course.


CX technology post-GDPR

Technology alone, at least in the form of most of today’s available CX platforms, isn’t the solution. 77 percent of marketers feel that technology has made it more difficult to deliver personalised experiences. From a technical standpoint, brands are moving forward at a slower pace than desired. 91 percent of marketers feel that if they better understood customer data, they could effectively automate parts of their experience. Yet 85 percent of marketers reported that customer data is captured in multiple systems and lives in different silos. As a result, it’s difficult to drill into that information for insights and create real-time feedback loops that impress your customers.

Marketers are some of the toughest critics of CX and have big visions for what’s possible with the right people, technology, and data in place. Delivering a top customer experience is no small challenge – and in today’s landscape, high expectations and data concerns leave little room for error. Marketers want their technology working together to create one cohesive experience, and to ensure they’re fully compliant with regulations post-GDPR.

Trust is the new currency in the digital age. Marketers have an opportunity to use data as a strong selling point, by addressing UK consumers’ concerns about how they’re collecting, storing, and managing individual data head-on.

Sylvia JensenSylvia JensenNovember 7, 2018


Most marketers today understand the importance of Customer Experience and often find themselves leading the charge on cross-functional alignment on CX within their organisations.

Countless studies have shown that CX drives results – Forrester found that CX leaders tend to deliver compound annual revenue growth rates of 17 percent (compared to that of three percent by CX laggards) and Deloitte found that consumers’ decisions to buy products or services are affected by their overall enjoyment of their experience.

But despite the clear and highly attractive benefits, very few organisations seem to be getting CX right, which is especially worrying because by 2020, CX will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator according to business consultancy Walker.

So what seems to be going wrong? Recently, Acquia decided to host a Twitter chat with some leading CX experts to uncover what challenges marketers are facing, the role of technology, and what organisations need to do to get it right.

These are the insights that came from the chat:

Understanding customers is still the biggest challenge to a connected CX – and technology is not a silver bullet

The first challenge for all marketers in any industry (in both B2B and B2C) is to understand the customer. Understanding customers doesn’t just mean knowing their age, location, gender or job title – it means understanding their attitudes, what drives them, and trying to anticipate reactions to certain triggers or offers. If you don’t understand your customers, you’ll never be able to create a connected Customer Experience.

Often, when an organisation knows little about its customers, they opt for an ‘omnichannel’ approach, and try to target consumers through every channel under the sun with the same offer – rather than targeting the right offer to the right person through the right channel. Very few organisations have the resources to offer an optimised experience on every single channel, and so for most companies, they find themselves spreading their resources too thinly, and leaving a bad impression or experience with customers.

Successful companies that do understand their customers well know that they need to break down data silos within their organisation to help create that ‘one view’ of the customer they need to create a more seamless experience across channels.Technology on its own does not ‘solve’ the problem of CX.

We would all love to invest in a technology that made our work problems go away, but no CX technology exists that will make the challenges of CX disappear overnight.

Although technology does help you to stay better connect with customers, storytelling is still an important ingredient. As one contributor to the Twitter chat put it, “Some of the best CX I have seen have been start-ups with little money and basic technology who know how to brand themselves and tell a story that customers deeply relate to”.

And as another person put succinctly: “It’s an enabler to assist, not the creator (of CX).”

GDPR is not a barrier for personalisation

In fact, GDPR is a positive move for personalisation. Now that you’ve had a chance to purge your CRM system of useless never-would-be customers, you can focus truly on the customers who have already indicated to you that they’re interested in keeping in touch by opting in to marketing communications.

And for new customers, look to get their permission early on in the sales process. After all, you’ve spent money driving them to your website or landing page so it makes sense to reduce your acquisition costs wherever possible so you don’t keep paying for them to come back, then nurturing them again at the top of the sales funnel.

And the key for any personalisation efforts? Honesty and openness. Customers want to know what you’re using their data for and how safe their data is in your hands. If you can demonstrate your trustworthiness and security, GDPR shouldn’t be a barrier to personalisation.

People still can’t agree on who should ‘own’ CX

This was perhaps the most surprising aspect of the conversation on Twitter. As part of the chat, we asked the question: “What teams are primarily responsible for CX, and does this need to change?”

I was fully expecting a consensus, but we had a plethora of different contradictory answers. Some argued for a dedicated team within an organisation to manage CX. Others argued that CX should be a board-level responsibility. Others still argued that CX should automatically be the responsibility of the entire organisation.

I’m more inclined to agree with the last group, as one user put it: “CX is a major contributor to conversions and revenue, and so it should be a key KPI and focus for all. Giving it to one team allows other teams to believe they are absolved from responsibility.”

After all, everyone in an organisation is a representative of the brand and will therefore have an impact on CX in some way or another.

Measuring the success of connected customer journeys need not be difficult

One Twitter user said: “We tend to think of it (CX) as something airy-fairy and hard to measure – but it’s not.”

And she’s absolutely right. The best way to measure the success of CX is to use the same KPIs you already use to measure other business objectives. Metrics like customer churn, NPS scores, spend against those who engaged, sentiment, and more are all ways you can measure CX. They key is to find out what metrics are most relevant to you, and then use them and track them over time.

Which brings me to our conclusion. What was clear from the Twitter chat was that everything should start from a sound base. First create a platform through which you truly understand what drives your customers’ behaviour and attitude. Secondly, accept that solving the problem of CX isn’t just a case of switching on some technology, and finally, get your whole organisation on board that they should be thinking about the customer in everything they do.

Then we might see some actual movement.

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Customer Experience Magazine is the online magazine packed full of industry news, blogs, features, reports, case studies, video bites and international stories all focusing on customer experience.



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