With the GDPR deadline almost upon us, we’ve probably all received a flurry of emails from companies asking us to opt back in to continue receiving their emails.
While that’s the visible face of GDPR, ongoing compliance with the EU directives is more to do with your company’s internal processes around storing, handling, accessing, sharing, and using the personal data you hold on your customers and prospects.
Without the right processes in place, and without the ability to identify and understand the data you hold, and allocate it to individual customers, compliance is going to be difficult.
Single Customer View
For years, marketing, customer service, and customer experience professionals have attempted to develop a ‘single customer view’ of their customers.
This boils down to having a data structure in place where every piece of information about a given customer is accessible by everyone who needs it, when they need it. It means either all data must be pulled together into a central location, or all the bits and pieces of data gathered by different siloes and touch points have to be tagged and linked so that the while data set is interrogable.
A company that can see this complete trail – of phone interactions, website visits, emails, purchases, social media comments, etc. – left by every customer and prospect is able to:
- Seamlessly manage interactions that cross multiple channels without asking the customer to update us or repeat information
- Route customer enquiries to the right team or person without delay
- Proactively engage the customer to head off service issues before they escalate
- Personalise upsell, cross-sell, and renewals offers to meet a customer’s needs and circumstances
- Identify customer segments, life-cycle stages, and purchasing patterns to inform everything from product development to marketing to pricing and payment options.
A Single View for GDPR Compliance
Your organisation, and all your suppliers and subsidiaries, must maintain compliance at all times.
The key areas of compliance include:
- Identifying all the data you hold and relating it to the individuals it concerns
- Understanding why you are holding that data and what you are using it for
- Informing the individuals concerned – the data subjects – of what data you hold and why, and how you’re using it
- Responding in a timely manner to requests from data subjects to access, modify, or remove their personal data
When it comes to how your organisation manages its data, the easiest way to maintain GDPR compliance is to have all your personal customer data held in one place.
For operational, logistical, legal, or technological reasons that might not be an option for some companies. What’s needed instead is a ‘virtual’ database which acts as a central repository of information even if all the actual data is held in different databases, in different places, and on different servers.
We call this a ‘living data inventory’ which is updated in real-time whenever any of your systems or databases updates or adds information about a customer.
Living Data Inventory
We are talking about creating an indexed copy of your data. For example, every record in every database which belongs to customer John Smith is tagged and linked so that, if Mr Smith were to ever make a GDPR-related request of the company, you can access all that data immediately.
This gets around the worry about integrating different databases and systems, as the inventory simply interrogates all those systems and links together all the data it receives as outputs to its queries.
What you now have is a portal for accessing all your data about any individual customer. To respond to GDPR requests from data subjects, your staff can now trawl through the data without having to log into multiple systems and search through multiple databases, each of which likely uses a different search method or method of cataloguing.
It also provides a powerful resource for maintaining information security and establishing what data is being processed, whose data it is, why it is being processed and by whom.
This central repository should be kept up to date by running the tagging and indexing routines on data as it is acquired and updated.
Beyond GDPR compliance, this same inventory can also form the basis of the single customer view that your sales, marketing, and other customer engagement staff can use to improve service and better target offers.
For more information download our e-guide.
Geoff Land is Managing Director of Infinity CCS. He previously held senior positions at Bright Star Communications (Saudi Arabia), founded Inspire FZE in the United Arab Emirates and has held a number of local and international positions at Nortel Networks. When Geoff is not travelling around the world he lives in Monmouthshire with his family and enjoys walking and working on his property.