Many businesses try to find new ways of discovering more about their customers and prospective leads, gathering this information through the interactions they have. However, this can seem a little one-sided. Customers long for a more personalised service with offers tailored to their preferences but can be concerned about sharing information about themselves unless they know what their data is being used for, and what they’ll be getting in return.

Trust will be crucial under GDPR

Zendesk’s latest Multi-Channel Customer Care Report has revealed that 78% of consumers would be willing to share data with companies if there was a benefit in doing so. This will be music to the ears of businesses with less than a year until the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) are implemented. Under the rules, consumers will be empowered to ‘opt-in’ or ‘opt-out’ of marketing communications. And what’s more important, companies must listen and obey their wishes. GDPR will challenge third party data sources so brands will have little choice but to build their own, established list of customers. As a result, earning trust to enhance and build customer relationships will be crucial to business survival. So how do brands achieve this?

Businesses need to be open and transparent with customers about what they are doing with their personal details. For example, if you were in a physical store and a sales representative approached you and asked for your contact details and preferences, you wouldn’t be inclined to share. But when they ask you what you’re looking for and suggest items that might compliment previous purchases you’ve made or what you’re about to buy, you’d be more willing to offer information about yourself. In this instance, it’s clear that sharing information will lead to a more personalised service. These are the types of conversations brands need to be having online with their customers. Why would a prospective customer share data about themselves without knowing why or what the business would be doing with it?

The benefits of sharing must be signposted

The benefits of sharing information must be clearly signposted for customers. Zendesk’s report also found that 49% of consumers surveyed said they would be willing to share required data with companies, but with several reservations. These hesitations can be eliminated by building an open and honest relationship. ‘Opt-in/opt-out’ options should not be part of the small print at the end of a long list of terms and conditions. It should no longer be simply classified as a ‘customer requirement’ to share data and personal information.

Businesses should refrain from using covert methods of obtaining personal data. Customer approval must be given without the use of hidden techniques such as cookies. Customers will be quick to turn away from brands that go behind their back to source information about them. Any element of ‘creepiness’ must be eliminated in marketing in today’s digital world. Any trust that has been built will be immediately lost if customers feel that a business has been deceitful in obtaining their details. Customers must also be given control over how they manage their data and privacy settings. Business must offer a customer-centric process that makes it easier for customers to execute their rights.

Brands must be bold and tell customers that they will benefit from an enhanced experience, more personalised communications and better recommendations if they tick the box and provide information about themselves. If a company can show it will be delivering true value in exchange for personal data, customers will be more willing to share.

Coyness will cost custom – openness is a two-way street

If businesses choose to keep their cards close to their chest in the run up to GDPR, customers will most likely mirror their actions. This could be challenging for brands as coyness could ultimately impact increased sales opportunities. Businesses have less than a year to get their communications right and secure the trust of customers.

Trust is not only hugely important for customer retention but also new customer acquisition. When people trust a brand, they are more likely to recommend it to a friend or family, thus helping to grow your client base. Being 100% open about the data collection process, and what customers will be getting in return for being open about themselves, will help break trust barriers and enhance customer relationships. Give a little and you’ll get a lot.


By Daniel Bailey, director EMEA North at Zendesk

GDPR Summit Series is a global series of GDPR events which will help marketers to prepare to meet the requirements of the GDPR ahead of May 2018 and beyond. Further information and conference details are available at

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