Data protection : a matter of customer relationship and trust

I’ve already discussed the fact businesses are unprepared to the coming to force of GDPR. In this post I’d like to highlight on the challenge that consists of taking the matter by the right end and have a good understanding of it in order not to miss the point and what really matters.

Too many people consider it’s mainly a matter of technology and regulation and deal with it as a new constraint. They’ll adapt because they have too but they will to the least possible because it’s a cost, a burden. They totally overlook the sales and marketing impact on the customer.

The client is not a data professional, however he’s not an idiot

It’s obvious that the client is not aware of the magic of what can be done with his personal data and that’s somehow a good thing because being well informed may cause and heart-attack. That said he knows that his data are being collected and used in an opaque way and he’d like businesses to be more transparent about that because it’s beginning to scare him.

That’s no more and lo less that a matter of trust because a business and its clients. Losing the client’s trust in a product is bad but can be fixed, losing trust about something that’s so personal, that has to do with their private life is offering clients a one-way ticket to meet one’s competitors.

Let’s be clear : trust is like toothpaste : once it’s out of the tube you will never bring it back in.

So, more than legal penalties, what can be really devastating will be the sanction from the market.

The client’s sanction regarding GDPR will be worse than the legal one

What do clients think about it ? That’s the theme of a KPMG study titled “Crossing the Line”  published earlier this year at a time where businesses used to pay  very little attention to the matter than today as deadlines are approaching.


What does the study say ?

  • Less than 20 percent were happy to disclose information on their online search history, income, location, address or medical records.
  • 55 percent of people said they had decided against buying something online due to privacy concerns.
  • Respondents in most countries say control over privacy is more important than convenience.
  • In all markets but one, at least 75 percent of respondents said they were uneasy with their online shopping data being sold to third parties.
  • Over two-thirds of people are not comfortable with smart phone and tablet apps using their personal data.
  • Half of survey respondents already delete their internet browser cookies or manage their social media privacy settings.
  • Almost one-third use incognito or ‘do not track’ modes when browsing the web.
  • 25 percent use encryption to protect their personal data.
  • Almost half would accept free or cheaper products in exchange for less privacy.


The customer is not ambiguous regarding data protection, that’s the enterprise response that’s not adapted

Reading the last point may make one say that customers are not consistent : they care about data protection but are ready to share data in exchange of something. In fact they are consistent and business did not get it.

Before going further we may consider that customers already get free services for their data. For instance all the free social web platforms, starting with Facebook. But they know that for Facebook they are the product being sold to the real clients : brands. Aware of the way they are monetized compared to what they get in return, they want a bigger part of the cake.

Customers are aware of the value of their data and they agree to share them provided what they get in return is consistent with this value. What brands offers today is convenience, so-called “better experiences”, what they want is something that can be measured in terms of money : actual discounts or free products. If leading web platforms mainly get it, most brands refused to acknowledge it and act accordingly.

While brands use data for better targeting and increase sales (note how hypocrite it is to say “we use cookies to improve your experience” while the so-called experience is targeted ads), the client wants discounts. Not sure the two can work together.

Regarding GDPR one thing is sur : clients will give a premium to the brands playing the game of transparency and will get rid of the others. In this perspective it’s not sure that strategies like Sonos one that will deny product upgrades to clients not sharing their data are relevant ones while, at the same time, companies like Apple are empowering users to control what data they share and point at services making a non-transparent collection and use of people’s data.

Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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