Unless you have been living on a desert island for the last year, almost anyone knows that four acronyms were responsible, last May, for bringing about the biggest change to the internet since it was conceived as a commodity in industrialised societies and increasingly in emerging economies. Those acronyms are the General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR or, if you prefer its English version, GDPR.

Few events can be so closely related to one of BRAINTRUST 's regular disciplines as customer experience. And we are not talking here about the several or many e-mails that people and strangers have received these days to confirm their subscription to newsletters they might not even remember. Having to deal with all these requests has had a brief impact on the day-to-day experience of the digital user, who is used to paying more or less attention to the messages they receive from all kinds of companies in the form of newsletters or more personalised e-mails. But as such an impact on the user experience is of a micrometric incidence if we put it in relation to the earthquake that the new regulation introduces in terms of the relationship between brands and customers.

In this regard, in our efforts to bring the Spanish-speaking market closer to professional considerations that usually come from the other side of the Atlantic "pond", we wanted to pay attention today to some reflections made recently in the prestigious publication Forbes as a result of a survey conducted by the analysis firm Pegasystems.

According to the data provided by this study, 8 out of 10 EU residents plan to use their newly "acquired rights" to affect in some way the data that companies have accumulated about them. This means that their default option will be to view, limit or completely erase the information that has been recorded in all the preceding years.

Let us remember that the basic lines of the GDPR are to put an end to the consideration of customer data as a "commercial asset" that until now it has been considered a "commercial asset". Although a large part of the digital economy has so far been based on the tacit concept that "if the service is free, the product is you", for European legislators this is a cake that must begin to be shared out differently. And where non-compliance has serious consequences in the form of substantial fines.

The first impact on the customer experience may seem obvious but it is not so obvious, because if we look at it from the customer's point of view (which is where it should be seen), it is clear that if a customer does not want you to use their data, they are outside the delivery of the experience and cannot affect it. From the point of view of the management of the experience by the company that has designed it, it can have limitations, since companies can see their lists of customers on which to act when it comes to achieving personalised experiences restricted. The second impact, which may be more important for companies to regain some of the initiative, is precisely what Pegasystems' vice president of customer relationship management (CRM), Jeff Nicholson, says: "companies must also handle the application in a way that enhances their customers' experience".

In other words, what appears to be a limiting factor in the customer experience can be, precisely, an incentive to generate a better customer experience. An example of how where some see a problem, others can see an opportunity. And that happens by assuming as soon as possible what is de facto inevitable: "it is more a question of when, not if, the requests (for modification or deletion of personal data) will arrive...".

"The best thing companies can do to be prepared is to be proactive. The shift in power and data is coming, and companies that ignore it or fail to plan accordingly run the serious risk of being blindsided by data requests and changes. Being transparent and creating reliable processes for customer data allows proactive brands the opportunity to engage with customers and gain a competitive advantage," says the article in question.

We would then be talking about a kind of "meta-GDPR", so that the new scenario is that customers want to know that they can trust companies to take care of their personal information, and not sell it or use it inappropriately. Whoever can assert that trust on the part of their customers... will be far more successful than companies that are "flooded" with tens, hundreds or thousands of requests, and do not know how to deal with them.

The 25 May was not "the finish line", he says, but "the starting line" of a long road of changes in customer relations.

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