GDPR – Privacy Data in the EU


If you’re in the EU you will have been bombarded with messages in the last few weeks, emails from everything you’ve ever subscribed to, forced logged out of apps, and screeds of new terms and conditions to read. It’s all because of GDPR, the European General Data Protection Regulation.
The GDPR is a new law on data privacy in the EU and it relates to companies, individuals and organisations processing personal data for commercial use. It’s meant a lot of work over the last 3 years for anyone working in digital and a lot of lawyers. It grants citizens very specific rights over their personal data, here’s the list of rights from the EU official site:

The responsibility rests with companies to obtain clear consent from you, and you must opt in to receive information from them, the law states that “pre-ticked boxes are not considered to be valid consent under GDPR”. The law also recognises that consent is not always possible, for example an employee cannot consent to be supervised by CCTV for a productivity issue – since there is a power imbalance between the employer and the employee. The penalties for companies are steep, up to €20 million, or 4% of the worldwide annual revenue of the prior financial year, whichever is higher. No wonder companies are working hard to set up good privacy systems.

As an individual, a consumer and an employee I like the principles of the law. I’m glad to see a comprehensive overall of how our data is used, and that the EU is using its power to counteract the power behind US tech giants who haven’t taken as much care of my data as I’d like. But oh boy it’s exhausting to read everyone’s terms and conditions and sort out what I’m going to agree to. And not all companies present it in the easiest way. Here’s the notification on data sharing from FastCompany

Seems OK right?
That’s until you scroll and find out that there are 53 companies other than Fast Company who get access to your data, and they get your data not just from Fast Company but also from other sites which use these companies – that’s code for tracking cookies being set on your computer so they know which site you use. I work in digital and I have heard of about 8 of these. There’s no way anyone has time to look through the conditions of all these sites and evaluate what is being done with the data.

Some companies weren’t able to make their sites GDRP compliant in the two years since the law was passed and I got this message

Me: “You promise??!!”

Pinterest Torture

Pinterest is the latest-greatest-fastest-growing social media platform, with a high conversion rate. Meaning that users are likely to buy something they’ve pinned, according to a small survey done Harvard Business Review 12% of pinterest users have gone on to make an online purchase of something they’ve pinned, and 16 % go on to make an offline purchase of something they’ve pinned.

Great news for businesses.

So why then do businesses pin a great image of their latest trendy product and then…

when I click on it give me this;

Requiring me to create an account in order to see the product price.

Guess what – I don’t. And I’m not alone.

Amazon, surely the standard-setter in online retail, lets you browse as long as you want, and offers you deals and discounts before asking you to log-in or create an account. Everything we know about transactions online says that the customer will only give you information when they’ve made a decision to buy – and that you shouldn’t put anything in the way of that decision. Once that decision is made then the customer is very task oriented, they’ll create accounts and do what they need to complete their purchase.

In the mean time; let me browse – who knows I may find a second pair of sunnies for the weekend.

Why no Wifi?

I took an overnight trip to London last month, I stayed in a nice hotel, not far from Trafalgar Square. A hotel that uses “classic luxury” as a descriptor. They wanted to charge me to use their wifi, in fact on check out they tried to charge me for 3 minutes internet time.

Opposite the hotel was a Costa Cafe, with good coffee, nice staff and free wifi. So I wandered across the road, ordered a large latte and used wifi there.

So why couldn’t the hotel provide free wifi? I pondered this as I sipped my coffee. To start with I was a bit annoyed and was working up to a good rant, but on reflection it makes sense.

The cafe has a lot of competition, several other cafes in walking distance and a bookstore with wifi. So if providing wifi attract more customers, or encourage customers to stay longer – and order a second cup, it’s well worth the costs. It’s a matter of beating the competition.

Hotels with a large proportion of business travels have customers who are less price sensitive since it’s often their company paying, and not funded from their own pocket. The extra charges for wifi will be picked up by expenses.

I predict a change; free wifi is becoming an expectation in any public space and I know one Asian-based businessman who includes it as criteria in selecting a hotel. No free wifi, no booking.

Customer Service Beats Wow

One of my colleagues ordered a taxi last week using his mobile phone, and was pleasantly surprised – wowed even, to get an SMS confirming his taxi booking.

For the rest of us, used to such a simple service, it doesn’t seem so exciting. We were amused at his enthusiasm, teased him a little.

Screen Shot 2013-06-15 at 10.08.48 PMBut it makes a lot of sense to get the basics right. It’s easy to be swayed by consultants and marketing gurus talking about delighting or enchanting your customers, but customers often want much less – particularly of commodity products

Harvard Business Review agrees, ” In fact, most customers just want a simple, quick solution to their problem” according to a recent tip. The taxi example prevents callbacks – your order in confirmed, and you feel confident that if a company can do that they’re probably well organised.

Very often the basic simple service is going to do more for your brand long term than elaborate plans to delight a customer.

Image Packaged With Custom Love / CC BY 2.0

Pay what you think it’s worth

Picture 14Years ago my parents when to a concert to raise money for musicians in Sarejevo, the tickets were free. You had to donate to leave. It was brilliant, everyone there was already ready to show support and by the time they’d heard the music they were in a good and generous mood. I’ve always wondered what the ticket “price” really was. I’ve also wondered if anyone else had tried this model.

Today I read of some other cases that have; a taxi driver, a chiropractor and a law firm.  It is another alternative payment structure like “freemium” – where a free model is available, but you pay a premium to get all the features.

I think it works under two conditions.

(1) when you are providing a personal service where clients and supppliers meet each other during the profession of the service, where both parties trust each other and have learnt to communicate. In other words where there’s an existing relationship.

(2) where it’s easy to compare the market price for the service, in the Concert example the attendees were all regular concert goers so knew roughly the price of a ticket. I’m currently having rather massive dental work done, it’s time consuming and complex. Although I know what a regular treatment costs I would probably underestimate the costs of this work.

I think it’s less likely to work where the service is anonymous, for example a retail relationship where it won’t be necessary to return to that supplier, or a service provided by an anonymous corporation – for example an insurer.

I’d like to be wrong, but I suspect without the relationship our own self interest will take over.

photo from arquera via flickr

Customer Experience

We’ve evolved from speaking about “customer satisfaction” to “customer experience” to “customer delight”.

It’s not an “or” question, you can’t delight your customers if you haven’t already satisfied their needs, but according to a Harvard blog one US bank has been trying to substitute coffee and comfortable chairs for efficient transaction service.

The blog points out that the people with the most banking expertise are now greeting visitors, I’m sure that was well justified in the consultant report. I imagine the logic went something like “you’re in this banking crisis, people don’t trust you, they way to turn that around is come out from behind your desks and talk to the customers”. It’s not necessarily bad advice in the conceptual sense – banks and financial institutions are seen as untrustworthy, and research indicates people don’t ask for advice in part because of a perceived distance issue.

The problem is in the execution. Most customers can do everything online, so if they’ve made the time to come into the bank it’s because they have a more complex transaction, or an problem that can’t be solved online. In short they’ve come into the bank for the bank’s expertise.

Customer satisfaction would be around accurate and efficient delivery of the expected service.

Screen Shot 2013-06-16 at 5.44.15 PMA positive customer experience would be around short waiting times, professionally friendly staff, comfortable surroundings. At this point you can earn trust, you’re doing the right things in the right way.

If all of that is in order you can then, and only then, delight me with a cup of really excellent coffee.

But you can’t skip the satisfaction and the experience and expect a customer to be happy because you’ve made my long wait for service more pleasant.

I can get coffee at a cafe – that’s not what I’m coming to a bank for.

Image Smiling coffee /Toby Bradbury/ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0