GDPR—these four letters are inescapable as we begin the year 2018. Amid concerns, both real and imagined, and contradicting opinions, the Webhelp Group, in collaboration with all parties involved, chose an innovative, pragmatic, and straightforward approach to the challenge.
There is no denying that the relationship from economic players and individuals to personal data is undergoing change. The nature of this change forces those working in Customer Relationship Management to walk a tightrope, trying to balance legitimate needs which are often at odds with one another. On one side, consumers rightfully require that their data be used only to provide them with services they have signed up for; on the other, the need for customised, speedy, and relevant response calls for a more holistic approach to data usage. Indeed, we all know how unpleasant it is as a customer to have to repeat your requests over and over again…
This dichotomy is brought at the forefront of Webhelp’s GDPR programme. For many years, we have been at the forefront of strategic thinking regarding the future of Customer Experience – and we have become convinced that meeting the challenges and expectations regarding privacy protection depends on “creating a virtuous model based on data quality.”
Rethinking Our Relationship with Data
Today’s digital world creates and circulates an impressive amount of data, with some sources quoting a figure of 163 zetabits (that is, 163 billion gigabits) for the year 2025, a ten-fold increase relative to levels processed in 2016. Each person generates data voluntarily and often also involuntarily. When a form is filled in online, or when a user sends a text message, is filmed outdoors by a video-surveillance system, browses the web, or agrees to their data being transferred across platforms, data is generated. Almost 85% of that data has no real use. Of the remaining 15%, only one-fifth is usable –so less than 1% of all that data captured! Despite this, a sizable amount of data remains, traces of their presence in the digital or physical world. This reality can no longer be ignored. Indeed, it is the subject of the protection afforded by European regulation, and of the integration of the latter into the Webhelp Group business.
Customer Relationship is based on loyalty toward the consumer. We must provide a service that meets valid consumer expectations, in the best interest of our customer. From a variety of technological environments, Webhelp handles about 2 million conversations each day, across all channels. Those interactions may be saved to allow for continuous service quality improvement and to provide the responses consumers require. By adapting to the customer context and creating on-demand solutions, Webhelp brings its expertise and know-how to its principals and their customers.
However, being so fully involved in those relationships, Webhelp recognized that we cannot remain systematically neutral with regards to the processing of personal data. Our efforts started years ago within the Webhelp Group, when it very quickly became apparent that a global effort would be required to ensure respect for consumer privacy. This effort has put us at the forefront of thinking around GDPR.
As we emphasize in our BCR (Binding Corporate Rules): “We believe protecting personal data is not just a matter of security or compliance with the law, but above all a matter of collective and individual obligation.” This ambitious approach has been the principle guiding the Webhelp Group’s action for several years, and it has been transposed to our successful innovations with Chatbots, Speech Analytics (Speech Recognition and Processing), and Machine Learning for work volume forecasting, etc. We have, in each of those projects, worked toward minimizing the amount of data used, while carefully monitoring the impact those projects might have on privacy.
These improvements are based on solving the dichotomy discussed earlier. We use data to meet the dual legitimacy of consumer requirements – but we only use relevant data, and strictly for achieving positive outcomes for our principals and their customers. From a risk-based analysis, data processing and the relationship we create based on that data became an opportunity for expanding the services we provide to our customers. This relationship is what lies at the core of Webhelp Group’s “Privacy” initiative.
Creating a Virtuous Cycle in Customer Relationship Management
Customer Relationship Management is actually tripartite, with strong links between the various partners. On one side, the principal client: like every business, it has a life of its own, counting on its partners’ expertise for support and advice. This is where BPO players, such as Webhelp, are especially relevant. We must be in tune with our client’s expectations and ultimately provide the most accurate, respectful yet relevant service possible to the consumer. Consumers are at the center of that relationship, its purpose, and their satisfaction is absolutely necessary.
In this tripartite relationship, there are key moments when consumers interact with the Customer Relationship Management provider. It is exactly at these moments that the strength of the relationship between consumer and brand is activated—a “third moment of truth,” in Marketing—crucial for brand image and loyalty. In such a decisive setting, there is no room for error, and the consumer demands service that is tailored to them as an individual – but that also respects their privacy and integrity in the use of their personal data. At those times, an approach consistent with legitimate consumer expectations must be employed, and the strategy regarding data processing is crucial. Without going as far as providing an extensive list, GDPR strongly strengthens obligations of transparency and information disclosure for consumers. Consumers must be made aware of, and in some instances, agree to the methods and means implemented to respond to their needs. This effort is now the responsibility of the principal and the BPO players, who must together reflect this requirement to the consumer. An example of practical implementation is the creation of both dedicated and shared GDPR teams, which will respond to consumer requests starting May 25th, 2018, as well as the use of KYC systems to identify the person making an access request.
It is upon this framework, both legal and pragmatic, that our initiative to create a virtuous model based on data quality is founded. By understanding and anticipating consumer needs and by providing a coordinated, accurate, and transparent approach, Webhelp is building, alongside the brands for which we work, this new relationship with data. Data usage must from now on be regarded no longer as a risk, but as an opportunity to provide optimal service. This endeavor is defined by a shared assessment, determination of processes, documentation, and transparency.
This common effort, driven by the principal and with Webhelp’s support through the services we offer, will shape the future of Customer Relationships. Together we will successfully navigate the journey from the age of Big Data to the age of Valued Data – an age in which brands and CRM players will continue to be able to take advantage of the possibilities that contextual data provides in delivering a personalised service for the individual consumer, whilst also successfully ensuring the right levels of respect for consumer rights and expectations.
Data Protection Officer – Webhelp
 General Data Protection Regulation – European regulation No. 2016/679 of April 27th, 2016