What Do Your Customers Know about GDPR?

We’re entering the final stages leading up to the official launch of the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), and as one might expect, the world is quickly dividing into two distinct populations: Company owners, IT pros, and data managers who have been thinking about this new law non-stop for more than a year, and customers, who are learning about it now for the very first time.


While your back-office operations managers have been running down GDPR checklists at night in their dreams for months, this acronym is only now entering our mainstream news and cultural discourse—mainly because users and customers are beginning to receive notice emails about updated privacy policies.

Since the questions are about to start rolling in, confusion and concern may briefly reign among long-time loyal users and new clients alike. To answer those questions, it may help to have a quick script in hand and a clear understanding of what these users (non-experts, for the most part) already know.

As you update your privacy policies, draft your notice emails, and coach your customer service team to respond to inquiries, focus on giving clear answers that reassure your customers and reaffirm your credibility. Providing clear answers and proof of compliance to enterprise clients and Series B investors will require one kind of approach. Keeping your existing subscribers and building your customer base will require another.

Here’s a short video that can help you make your own case when you’re asked about the GDPR—What it is, how it works, what aspects of your provider-customer relationship will change, and what aspects will remain the same.

As you already know, but your customers may not, the GDPR has limits. Users may “own” their data, but companies are still within their rights to apply that data to certain search algorithms and marketing strategies. And the discontinuation of some forms of data mining will alter revenue structures for some companies, which may mean a once-free service will no longer be free, for reasons that will need to be explained.   

If you aren’t prepared to explain exactly how the “right to be forgotten” will apply to your customer base, and you aren’t sure what to say when asked why your fee structure is changing, don’t let this cause you to lose customers. Be ready to frame your transition as a positive move for all of your stakeholders—including both customers and employees. Start shaping a central message now, and build your script around that message. At every stage, emphasize your compliance with the law, your respect for customer data, and your flexibility and resilience during a time of change.