By James Brown, CEO of Smart Communications

GDPR went into effect just more than a month ago. And in that time, it has already brought a wave of changes and challenges for businesses across the world — not just in the EU. If an organization has business interests in the EU, regardless of geography, the new regulation forces them to rethink the way they collect and use personal data. Under GDPR, businesses must have customers’ consent to leverage their data in any way.

There has been a lot of discussion about how GDPR impacts businesses, but how does it affect the customer experience? Here are two ways the new regulation is affecting customer communications and driving even more need for meaningful conversations.

Smaller Data Sets = Higher Quality Communications

While many are sounding alarms over GDPR, there are benefits. Compliance creates the opportunity for companies to improve the accuracy of their customer data since the threshold for collection has increased. This means richer, more accurate data from those customers that actively opt-in to receiving communications. And since a key part of the equation for compliance is to re-engage customers for consent to use their data, organizations will get a better sense for who’s opting in and out. This will lead to more accurate information about a company’s customer base and allow them to deliver more personalized and effective communications — ultimately creating a more positive customer experience.

Today’s savvy customers demand more personalized, more authentic and higher quality experiences. According to Altimeter Group’s Brian Solis, customers are “increasingly demanding more personalized engagement.” And companies are taking notice. Studies  confirm this, with Document Strategy citing that  64% of global service providers see customer communications and the  customer experience associated with effective, personalized communications as one of the most important business trends at the moment. Companies can retain additional customers by improving their communications, building better individual relationships and tailoring the delivery of their communications to more preferred channels.

GDPR compliance is an undoubtedly complex task. But it gives businesses the opportunity to create more nuanced communications by embracing trust, transparency and an understanding of their respective customer bases — ultimately leading to a better customer experience overall.

Customer Communications Innovation: Pull Tactics, Trust and Personalization

 Customer communications tactics can often be divided into two categories– “push” or “pull.” Push strategies (e.g. email, SMS, direct mail, etc.) are currently the most popular. And while these methods are tried-and-true, having proven their worth for getting the word out, it’s quite possible we’ll soon see an evolutionary shift toward a more “pull”-based dynamic, as a result of GDPR.

Pull tactics involve motivating customers to actively seek out your business. And studies have shown that a growing number of people are expressing interest in receiving more pull-based communications from companies. Interestingly, GDPR may be a catalyst for this trend. Businesses will need to adopt new and varied methods of personalization in communications to encourage new and existing customers to opt-in to, and consent to use their information and preferences for future communication. Fostering trust through pull tactics to facilitate opt-ins will prove to be the most effective tactic for scaling customer communications post-GDPR. In fact, a recent survey cited that 78% of customers are more likely to engage with a business and opt-in when they know that they’ll retain control over how an organization communicates with them (e.g. text, email, SMS). Since the threshold for opt-ins and personalization is rising in the face of GDPR, businesses are rethinking their entire approach to customer communications as a whole, which is why we’ll see pull tactics move further into the forefront of organizations’ respective communications frameworks.

With GDPR already underway and customers’ desire for greater control over how companies communicate with them digitally continuing to grow, organizations will increasingly see GDPR as an impetus to continue to improve customer engagement. GDPR impacts every organization that handles customer data and these companies should embrace the regulations as a chance to further build customers’ trust and boost engagement.