How GDPR affects my customer database?

Be it a small business or a large enterprise, everyone wants to expand and enhance their customer database for marketing purposes. And, to do so, they need to collect the personal data of their customers, including, name, address, location, hobbies, etc. On the flip side, customers have serious concerns regarding the security of their personal data. Customers don't want their personal information to be shared and used by the businesses for their benefits. In the light of this, the European Union implemented a new regulation known as The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on May 25, 2018. This regulation came up after 2-year transition period. According to this regulation, businesses that handle and monitor the personal data of the citizens of the European Union need to follow specific guidelines on how they gather, store and use customer data.

GDPR- A short Overview

The GDPR was a replacement of 1995 European Union Protection Directive and went into effect on May 25, 2018. Compliant to EU law, it was explicitly designed to enhance the personal data protection of the European Union citizens. GDPR provides EU citizens with a greater control over their personal information. It ensures that their data is being secured and protected regardless of it being processed in the European Union or any other part of the world. In the nutshell, GDPR has not only a massive impact on businesses across the EU but also in the US. It tightens the laws regarding what companies can do with their user's data. Not just it gives clients more authority over how their information is being used yet additionally powers organizations to justify all that they do with it. Undoubtedly, the cost of noncompliance with the GDPR is not something one can afford to overlook, adopting new compliance principles makes your business more efficient, secure and competitive.

What personal information is included in GDPR?

People have different perceptions regarding- what Personal information database includes according to GDPR. Well, there is no specific list of it, but it just refers to the personal data relating to any identified data subject (person). Simply put, personal data is any information related to an individual, whether it relates to his or her private, professional or public life. According to GDPR, any person who can be identified (directly or indirectly) by reference to an identifier like name, location data, the identification number of any other personal factors come under ‘Personal Data.' Some examples of personal data -

  • Name
  • Location
  • Address
  • Income
  • Bank details
  • Email address
  • Online Identifiers (Cookie data, IP address etc.)
  • Posts of social networking websites
  • Medical information
  • A computer's IP address
  • Cultural profile etc.

How GDPR affects the customer database?

If you own a business that touches the customer database, GDPR can affect you. It is the most important data privacy legislation, requiring businesses to adopt a customer-first mindset. Moreover, businesses need to prepare themselves for GDPR compliance, which is not just limited to the EU. Undoubtedly, data privacy is an important issue for both consumers and businesses.  And, being GDPR compliant helps businesses build trustworthy and loyal relationships with your customers and the public generally. Now here the question is- How GDPR affects customer database? Let's have a look.

1. You now need Consent from your Users

Gone are the days, when you were free to use the personal data of your customers without their consent. Now, you need a CLEAR CONSENT of your customers to use their data. For example, if you are doing any business on the phone, you have to record the calls of your customers when they give you consent to keep their personal data. You can even link it to your CRM, and track and find customers’ record easily, but only with their consent. Or You may ask your contacts if they are willing to get promotional emails. This shows you are asking their permission directly. Moreover, you should also be transparent and accessible when customers want to unsubscribe from your promotional content.

2. Purpose Limitation

Another way GDPR affects the customer base is by limiting the purpose. It means with GDPR, you can only collect data from your customers for legitimate, explicit and specific purposes. Now, you need to specify how will you use the personal data of your users. For example - A tobacco company can ask you for your birthday as they can’t sell or market their products to the users below a certain age. But, any eCommerce website doesn’t have the right to ask you for your personal information.

3. Right to be Forgotten

GDPR grants data subjects the ‘Right To Be Forgotten' to have their personal data deleted from business’s customer database if they no longer want their information to be processed and when there is no legal reason for a data controller to keep it. Under this right, as a company, you need to delete personal data of your customers once the retention period is over. Even if you have forgotten, then your customers and contacts have the right to ask or request you to delete it. If the data is collected by electronic means, you can provide relevant information through email. You will ‘Forget' the personal information of your user and delete it from all your records.

4. Right to Data Portability

In addition to the right to be forgotten, data subjects have rights to transfer their personal data to another controller. For example, when you change an internet provider, data subjects may want to transmit their personal data to another service provider. As simple as that.

5. Right to be Informed

According to this right, companies need to inform their customers or individuals before collecting their data. Companies have to seek consumers’ consent before sharing their data.

Prepare for GDPR

For both marketers and sales teams, personalization is a high- priority and personalization entirely depends on customer data. It's not ideal for businesses to abandon data-rich tactics or personalization because of GDPR. Instead, you should make efforts and invest time to ensure compliance and understand how to balance GDPR-compliance and personalization. If you work with EU citizens, you should make the required changes to ensure compliance. But if you don't start preparing right now, you will face the same legislation as enacted in other countries. So, here is how you can prepare for GDPR:  

  • Understand the legal framework of GDPR

  Ensure that your organization understands all ins and outs of GDPR. Why GDPR is important? How your company is moving ahead to achieve compliance?  

  • Review your Data carefully

  Start reviewing your data from today. Access all the information you may have. For example, how it is shared, collected and used, etc. Based on the findings, you need to look for the infrastructure where you can store data safely.  

  • Update your privacy notices and make it GDPR compliant

  If you need to get GDPR compliant, you need notifications that assist you in how to use customers’ data, right to access, remove or transfer customer data.  

  • Right to erasure

  According to the legislation, businesses can only use personal data after getting their customers consent. So, if a customer asks or requests you to remove his/her personal data, you need to take action ASAP.

Final Words

Undoubtedly, updating your prevailing systems will take resources and time. But the good news is - GDPR gives businesses the complete freedom to restructure their products and services. So, if you are concerned about securing the personal data of your customers, then become GDPR Compliant today!

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