How is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) affecting you?
We have to be compliant as a data processor and we are going through ISO 27001 [the standard for best-practice information security processes] to ensure we have the highest standards of cyber-security in place.
What are dealers’ biggest concerns with the GDPR?
The biggest concern is ‘what do we do with our existing data? Do we stop using it because we can’t demonstrate consent to a GDPR level?’
We believe most dealers can use ‘legitimate interest’ to continue to communicate with existing customers. Once they have engaged with you [using legitimate interest], you will have to gain consent to the higher standard.
Legitimate interest is a legal basis as long as you are sensible and fair. It has to be a balance of interest between consent and the company’s reasons for making contact. If the balance is skewed toward marketing and a complaint is made to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), it runs the risk of being upheld.
However, if it is a reasonable amount of contact with a reasonable amount of relevance and that assessment can be shown to have taken place, we think the ICO won’t have a problem. What is still open for debate is how long we can use that [legitimate interest] and what is considered a reasonable amount of time.
How do dealers utilise ‘legitimate interest’ under GDPR?
We think all sorts of communications can be covered by legitimate interest, such as end of warranty, MOT and service reminders and even some sales promotions. The level and the relevance would need to be thought through, so you can’t bombard your entire database, but if you can show your data has been carefully segmented and is based on personal preference then it’s likely to be OK.
How are dealers managing consent?
Collection of consent is the big area, but that needs to be tackled by the front-end suppliers such as web providers, digital agencies and makers of showroom systems. There’s a lot of silence and confusion about how it will operate. There needs to be more dialogue between dealers and the system providers.
What’s your advice to dealers preparing for the GDPR?
The important message is relevancy and timing, plus having the documentation to assess the people you are communicating with. There’s no need to throw away the old database, it can be used legally. Everyone is talking about consent, but there are other legal bases you can use.
How does integrating social channels and customer communications aid dealers?
We use the same data for Facebook and CRM. For customers targeted through both CRM and social, our clients achieve sales conversion rates in the mid-30s compared with those customers whose data is not collected properly, where conversion rates are about 19%.
How good are dealers at data capture?
We actively show how many contacts are processed through our system compared with the amount of customers who have been logged. We report daily to some clients – the better the data capture, the more our activity works.
We have seen some massive improvements over the past five years among the dealers working with us. In the past two years, we have seen a much higher standard of data quality than we were seeing five years ago when clients first came on board.
How will customer communications continue to develop?
Marketing is becoming more personalised, segmented and sharper. There is much less of a scattergun approach – personalised messages are delivered at the right time. We are looking at what technology consumers are using and figuring out how we can put clients’ information to them using more diverse channels.
Manufacturers are taking an ever closer interest in customer communications. We can see manufacturers getting more involved in data handling,segmentation and marketing channels.