GDPR Is Path to Trust and Improved Customer Experience

by Mike Hunter


Marketers from organizations who took the lead in preparing to meet and exceed GDPR data standards have noted increased trust and engagement levels with customers, according to data from the CMO Council, collected in partnership with SAP Customer Experience, that it reported in “GDPR: Impact and Opportunity — How Marketing Leaders Addressed GDPR Readiness and Compliance.” While survey respondents agreed that the implementation of GDPR standards reinforced a responsibility to better protect their customer’s data, the issue became whether or not an organization would seize on the responsibility and turn regulation into optimized experiences. 

For their part, GDPR leaders — those marketers who had not only established a plan but were also well down the path of execution and compliance by the enforcement deadline of May 25, 2018 — believed GDPR was an opportunity to deliver better customer experiences and to build customer trust and loyalty. Alternatively, GDPR laggards – marketers without a plan in place or far removed from process, having no idea if a plan was in the works — remained happy to see compliance as a burden for other teams to resolve or an issue for only EU-based companies to tackle.

“What marketing leaders have seized upon is the reality that trust is the currency of today’s data-driven customer engagement. Without trust, the customer will walk away from an experience, taking their loyalty and their wallets with them,” notes Liz Miller, SVP of Marketing with the CMO Council. “GDPR and, more specifically, the frenzy of activity surrounding the compliance deadline, was not the end of a security conversation … it was the start of an experience transformation.”

“Savvy businesses already understand that to win customer loyalty they must lead with transparency and consent,” says Patrick Salyer, general manager of Customer Data Cloud and Customer Experience with SAP. “In today’s landscape, companies are realizing that trust is the ultimate currency and it serves as the foundation of all meaningful customer relationships.”   

How does your department/organization view GDPR compliance? (Select all that apply.)

A responsibility to better protect customers’ data


A chance to build customer trust and loyalty


An opportunity to provide better customer experiences


A call to action to overhaul organizational perspectives on customer data


A burden that we’ve started to get a good handle on


An overwhelming burden that we don’t know how to tackle


An EU issue that doesn’t impact our business


A path to cost-cutting by removing programs and processes that fail to engage properly


A problem for another team/department to solve


What resources informed the organization’s GDPR compliance plan? (Select all that apply.)

Internal expert from a non-marketing function like legal, compliance, IT, etc.


We researched GDPR ourselves and assigned a person/team to manage the plan


An external expert/consultant


External technologies/solutions


Existing technology/automation platform compliance plug-ins and resources




How have the changes impacted your customer relationships? (Select top three.)

Heightened awareness around data and security issues


Increased trust


Increased expectations for personalization improvements in exchange for customer data


More engaged customers


Increased irritation by extra steps and opt-in requirements


Less engaged customers


In what areas are you planning to (or have you already) implemented changes to the customer experience? (Select all that apply.)

How and where consent is obtained


The tools used to collect customer data


Customer data utilization plans and processes


Frequency of communications/touchpoints


No changes specific to the experience will be/
have been made





Source: CMO Council GDPR Impact and Opportunity Report

The Chief Marketing Officer Council is the only global network of executives specifically dedicated to high-level knowledge exchange, thought leadership and personal relationship building among senior corporate marketing leaders and brand decision-makers across a wide range of global industries. The CMO Council’s 10,500-plus members control more than $500 billion in aggregated annual marketing expenditures and run complex, distributed marketing and sales operations worldwide, covering multiple industries, segments and markets.

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