How can intelligent enterprises meet the demands of the new Me2B paradigm?
Two words: customer control. Alex Atzberger, president of SAP Customer Experience, said as much himself:
“This is the Me2B world. The implications are clear: the customer dictates the terms and determines how they interact. If they aren’t happy, they don’t stay.”
Beyond the market trend, customer control is at the core of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It seeks to make data collection and processing more transparent for consumers and to put them in more control of their digital experiences.
At a high level, it makes perfect sense. To treat customers like people, and not just as sales opportunities, brands need to listen, not just talk. However, the customer control solution gets murkier when we drill down from “Why?” to “What?” and “How?”
So, let’s examine the idea of customer control from multiple angles to get down to the nuts and bolts of the Me2B movement.
The Modern Customer’s Many Data Points
In a recent CMO Council survey, marketers said their GDPR readiness assessments turned up “far more” points of data collection than they had originally outlined. This isn’t surprising when you consider how much data the modern customer produces on a day-to-day basis.
Of course, customers don’t think in terms of data production. They shop online, indicate likes and dislikes and create accounts through the lens of saving time, getting good deals and finding what they’re looking for.
In previous years, the big data industry feasted on the data these behaviors generated. Many companies collected and processed customers’ personal data without their consent. They bought and sold terabytes of third-party consumer data and used it to power personalization engines, automated individual decision-making and other powerful marketing technologies.
Governments and customers had little control of this situation, if any. It was basically the digital equivalent of the wild west.
The Perfect Storm
Spooked by massive data breaches and data misuse scandals, and sick of being inundated with spam and followed around the internet by the same digital ads for weeks, consumers began demanding change.
In 2016, EU regulators responded by drafting the GDPR. To give businesses time to address the considerable complexity of its requirements, the EU instituted a two-year transition period before it began enforcing the regulation. When consumer privacy concerns reached a fever pitch due to the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal, many saw the GDPR as the solution. Why? The regulation establishes new rights for consumers, or “data subjects”, that require businesses to empower customers with total visibility, access and control of their personal data.
The ultimate goal of these new rights: enable customers to dictate their own terms of engagement with brands.
Now that GDPR enforcement has begun, consumers will increasingly expect brands to offer this kind of granular access and control. According to the CMO Council survey, the most prominent change marketers have noticed as their organizations implement GDPR compliance initiatives is a heightened consumer awareness of data and security issues. More control is what consumers and EU regulators are looking for, and the GDPR is the mechanism that compels organizations to provide it.
The Benefits of a Self-Service Preference Center
According to the most recent Accenture Pulse Check, 74% of consumers think a “living profile” is valuable if it helps to curate the experiences, offers and products they receive. Whether you call it a living profile or a self-service preference center, the idea is to provide customers total personal data control from a single portal, accessible from any device or platform.
By enabling customers to shape their own experiences, a comprehensive yet intuitive preference center offers businesses a chance to build trust and strengthen loyalty with consumers. It also provides a platform for addressing the GDPR’s requirements in a centralized way.
To fulfill this promise, though, this preference center must be built on a unified customer profile that serves as the single source of customer data across the organization. This not only provides a more streamlined and consistent experience for customers, but also enables bi-directional synchronization between this profile and the rest of the digital enterprises’ arsenal of customer engagement technologies.
Instead of maintaining multiple silos of profile, preference and consent data, consolidating these attributes into a unified profile makes it easier for consumer permissions to be pushed out to other systems, and vice-versa. In this way, the business can continue to innovate around increasingly personalized marketing, sales and service strategies, while ensuring that each customer’s wishes are honored across the entire omni-channel journey.
Getting the Full Picture
While giving customers control of their data and experiences is a core pillar of the Me2B movement, it’s hardly the only one. A truly holistic approach to building trusted customer relationships means:
- Being clear and transparent with consumers about how and why their data is collected and processed
- Striving for cross-functional buy-in across the organization to implement “privacy by design” systems and practices
- Developing new strategies for preventing and responding to data breaches and increasingly sophisticated cyber criminal activities
To learn more about how to build a successful, privacy-first enterprise, sign up for our webinar with Forrester’s principal analyst, Fatemeh Khatibloo.
By Natalie Monetta