Personalised Experiences Part 4: How To Capture Data Compliantly

Any topic relating to customer data can be tricky.

The key is fully understanding the regulations, doing what is right for the consumer and doing ‘compliance by design’.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The GDPR became law on 25th May 2016, but doesn’t come into force until the 25th May 2018.

This will affect all data processors.

Brexit may mean that changes to these regulations is likely to occur again. However, it is certain that there will be some regulations similar to these.

In summary, there is a new definition of what constitutes personal data – it now also includes ‘any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person’. This means that the majority of online data is now considered personal data – including data such as IP addresses (when put with another bit of data with it, for example).

The regulations also set out a range of new and clarified consumer rights and organisation obligations, including:

  1. Consumer consent has to be unambiguous. Therefore there needs to be a clear affirmative action.

This means:

  • ‘silence or pre-ticked boxes’ do not constitute consent
  • Some channels may suffer as a result, so statements and wording needs to be optimised to limit impact. It is recommended to assess the impact that ‘opt-in’ may have on the database.

2. Consumers have the right to privacy by default. Therefore permission must be actively collected.

This means:

  • Opt-in/out boxes cannot be set to ‘in’
  • Privacy settings must be set to block contact and consumers must have to un-tick a box in order to receive marketing comms.

3. Consumers have the right to the erasure of personal information (also known as ‘the right to be forgotten’). This is one of my favourite subjects to discuss at the moment.

This means:

  • Some data can be retained in order to remember you have forgotten but this must be minimised – for example, the customer’s name and the fact they’ve asked to be forgotten
  • If the customer forgets they wanted to be forgotten, the latest consent will always override previous requests.

4. Consumers have the right to data portability. Therefore it should be easy for consumers to switch providers.

5. Consumers have the right to privacy by design. Therefore data protection must be visibly planned into projects from the outset.

This means:

  • Data protection assessment must be completed for new tech or new data
  • Record keeping and audit trails will be required
  • A data protection officer role must be recruited

6. The right to opt-out of profiling and associated processes. Therefore some profiling will now need consent.

This means:

  • Any automated processing which evaluates personal interests or predicts and analyses people may need consent
  • Profiling with ‘legal effects’ will need explicit consent and profiling for direct marketing will need an ‘opt out’ model.

7. A new definition of what constitutes a data breach. Therefore there must be a new process for a data breach.

This means:

  • Organisations must inform the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) no later than 72 hours after the breach has been discovered
  • If it is a high risk, it must be communicated with consumers in plain language

Now we know how to be compliant, the next blog post will look at how to capture the data to design for personalised experiences.

Personalised Experiences Part 3: Agree What Data Is Most Relevant

There are essentially two types of customers that engage with a brand – those that are known and those that are unknown.

pic 51. Known customers

With known customers, there is an opportunity to deliver highly personalised experiences at an individual level across all channels.

We can target and engage them based on what we know about their needs and preferences, as well as where they are on their customer journey. This will help prioritise messaging and content to ultimately drive advocacy, sales and revenue.

2. Unknown customers

With unknown customers, personalisation becomes restricted across limited channels.

Essentially the more we know about our customers, the more we can personalise our communications for them.

pic 6

But it’s not just any data that we need to gather about our customers. We only need to attain what we need and what is relevant.

When working out what data is relevant to collect, you need to understand what you’re trying to achieve by personalising the experience. I will be exploring this in detail in the blog post on data signals.

But for now, let’s start by understanding the different types of data that could help you understand more about your customer, where they are and what they need:

  • Static Data

This is the data that doesn’t change, or at least not very frequently. For example – first name, last name, email address and date of birth.

This is usually collected through registration on a website.

  • Dynamic Data

This is data that changes frequently. It could include things like browsing or purchasing data.

There are a number of different ways to collect this data.

  • Contextual data

Contextual data is useful if you want to personalise an experience based on external factors such as the weather, the time of day that a customer visits your website, or events such as Valentine’s Day.

Once you have mapped the types of data you would like to collect including static, dynamic and contextual data, you will need to understand the regulations. My next blog post in this series will explore how to capture data compliantly.

Personalised Experiences Part 2: How to Leverage The Opportunities.

When people ask me what I do as ‘PCE Manager’, I say I’m like a personal trainer. A personal trainer knows their customers and their customer’s needs, and they create a program tailored to suit those. A company creating personalised experiences will do exactly that, but on a larger scale.

Very few companies in FMCG are doing PCE.

Although we’re not yet seeing many FMCG companies doing this, we can look to travel, credit card and internet companies to see how, when done well, PCE can increase engagement, conversion and ultimately sales.

This means we have an unprecedented opportunity.

Let’s quickly recap what I think the opportunities of doing this are –

The opportunity is to build an unshakeable understanding of a company’s most valuable audience. It’s about understanding when they are most receptive, and developing content that is relevant and present when the customer is most resonant (right place, right message, right time). The opportunity is to provide what feels like a personal brand experience at scale.

Personalisation and mass customisation is the future way of marketing brands.

pic 4

So how do you do this?

Personalisation at scale requires businesses to:

  1. Agree what data is most relevant
  2. Understand the regulation to capture data compliantly
  3. Capture the relevant data to design for personalised experiences
  4. Map the customer needs within the customer journey
  5. Understand the data signals for each part in the customer journey
  6. Create and align content and experiences that meet those needs
  7. Get the right technology in place to deliver personalised experiences in an automated way at scale.

Each of these points will become a standalone blog post in this series on ‘Personalised Experiences’.

Personalised Experiences

I’ve not written a blog post for a while, so this is the start of a new series of blog posts all about Personalised Experiences – and lessons learned from my new(ish) role as Personalised Consumer Experience (PCE) Manager at Nestle UK&I.

This blog post is the first in this new series.

Part 1. An Introduction to PCE

PCE is about harnessing the vast amounts of data which exists on consumers (or customers) today, to deliver a more relevant and personalised experience.

It requires businesses to service customers with the right message, in the right place, at the right time.

pic 1

This is important because customers’ expectations have changed.

We can look to the three established tech giants to see how behaviour, and expectations are being fuelled – Amazon has been showing us products outside our search criteria that match our preferences for years, Netflix recommends programs and films based on our viewing habits, and Google auto-fills search suggestions based on what it knows about us.

Customers are becoming so accustomed to dynamic personalised experiences, that it’s odd when they don’t occur.

The expectation is not so much that companies can, but should, provide personalised experiences on a regular basis.

pic 2

The pay-off.

Personalised experiences enable more relevant communications with customers which in turn, leads to improved acquisition and retention, enhanced loyalty and increased revenue.pic 3

By making the journey from awareness to conversion more personalised, companies will reduce waste from the traditional broadcast approach. Instead, they will focus on what is relevant for the customer and move more customers down the funnel more efficiently.

A good example is the Co-operative Travel which saw a massive 217% increase in revenue since it started personalising its website.

The upside of PCE is great, however it does take commitment and in some cases, transformation in the way businesses work. To fully leverage the opportunities, requires a change in mindset, processes and capabilities.

Read more about this in part two in this series…

The best free online digital courses

Forget NetFlix. I’m a self-confessed MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) junky.

I love learning new things, learning at my own pace and on the move, so MOOCs and online coursers are perfect for people like me.

Online courses are becoming more common, but which are right for you?

Here’s my list of the top five:

  1. Coursera

I couldn’t possibly miss this one out. It’s by far my favourite – its mission is literally to ‘provide universal access to the world’s best education’.

Coursera is a platfrom that partners with top universities and organisations around the world, to offer courses online for anyone to take.

There are hundreds of different courses available at different times which include short video lectures, interactive quizzes, peer graded assessments and a forum to connect with other learners and instructors. There’s even an option to purchase a certificate after you complete the course for a small fee.

I’ve completed many courses with Coursera including: ‘Change, Innovation and Creativity’, ‘Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence’ and ‘Brand Management: Aligning Business Brand & Behaviour’.

There are plenty of topics to choose from – from arts and humanities, computer science, engineering to learning Chinese. There’s also more specialist subjects which you can pay to do.

  1. The Digital Garage

Another one from Google. This one’s great because the very first step once you’ve signed up is to take a survey which then helps create a personalised learning plan with different lessons just for you based on your goals. The videos are beautiful too!

  1. FutureLearn

Okay, so I haven’t used this platform yet but I’ve signed up to a ‘Transmedia Storytelling’ MOOC that starts at the end of January, so I’ll let you know how that goes…

It’s got some pretty good reviews and its run by a privately owned company owned by the Open University with 76 partners around the world including the British Library, the National Film and Television School, professional bodies such as the ACCA, and businesses like the BBC.

There are tons of courses ranging in length – from three weeks to ten weeks long – the subjects are also diverse and the videos look good too.

  1. Google Analytics Academy

I completed the ‘Digital Analytics Fundamentals’ course – a subject I really knew very little about. It covers what data is most important for different business objectives, analysis techniques (e.g. segmentation and context), conversions, attribution, creating a measurement plan and a deep dive into Google Analytic reports.

All in all a very thorough overview from a trusted source.

There are also more specialist courses such as ‘Google Tag Manager Fundamentals’ and ‘Mobile App Analytics’.

  1.  Canvas

This one’s interesting because anyone can apply to run a course (as long as you meet the criteria).

Lots of MOOCs available, specific to the digital industry. Only some courses have certificates, so check before enrolling if that’s important to you. There’s also a good discussion network where you can chat with other participants, to help you along the way.

Your customer experience is your brand

The way we see brands is different to how we viewed them in the past.

Peter Druker once said the role of a business is to create value for its customers. That branding was something separate and extrinsic to the business and lives in the mind of customers.

Business academics are now starting to realise it’s something more than that. It’s intrinsic and helps drive customer behaviour. The brand is actually a dynamic sequence of experiences, and the role of the business is to deliver these different experiences to the customers.

Disney is a great example of this. Former CEO, Michael Eisner once said; “A brand is a living entity – and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures”. Disney do this so well that words, like ‘magical’ will trigger people to think of Disney before any other brand.

And if I say “innovation”, you’ll probably think of Apple.

That’s because everything it does – from it’s design, customer service, product launches and retail experience fuel the customer experience. Its brand is not something that can simply be drawn up in an advert.

Strong branding is becoming more prevalent in today’s world of business; with commoditisation which is being driven by the internet, increasing consumer power and demands, ‘copy-cat’ products, and highly competitive pricing.

And because of this, it’s becoming increasingly important to every sector (insurance companies spring to mind), that customer experience is the new marketing.

So, what does this mean for organisations?

Well, if branding is the customer experience, then it needs to be part of a bigger thing. It requires deeper engagement with different departments – HR, IT, customer service etc, etc. and a wider understanding of the bigger picture.

This means ways of working is changing, ways of measuring brand health is changing and ways of measuring success is changing.

The solution?

Newton’s Cradle.


This is a metaphor for the role of management in an organisation – which is to align the business with the brand and customer behaviour across the organisation.

This hasn’t always worked out so easily in the past. So many projects fail and so many organisations fail because they’re too big to function. There’s simply too many people who are pulling in different directions. Each department has its own targets, own culture and own way of doing things. But this doesn’t make sense.

I’ve only ever worked in small agencies, but working with my clients, who are mostly large brands, has made me see just how difficult it is trying to work across silos to make anything happen.

In a small agency of course, you don’t have that problem. Everyone you need to help you is in that same room. Which is why, at small agencies, such a great deal of learning happens – because you’re able to share and collaborate with so many different people in a short space of time. And as a result, get things done quickly for the client which may have taken them months to years to achieve in house. I’d also argue that there’s more alignment which means a consistent customer experience – because you all have access to the same information.

So, we know collaboration is key. I’ve seen lots of different ways of attempting to tackle this problem; whether it’s using enterprise social networks and other technology, or the example from Google about making staff queue at lunchtimes to encourage collaboration. Some organisations have project steering groups which I think actually work quite well at times, but it still means having to round people up from across the organisation to get stuff done, which can be a big challenge. This has a massive effect on time and morale. But also innovation and customer experience can become damaged in the process.

Customer Hubs

Customer Hubs is a concept introduced by Martin Hill-Wilson. It tackles all of these problems with what is essentially a very simple solution – one I wish I’d thought of. In the most simplest form, it is a physical space where the best people from around the organisation can come together to learn together, work together and make decisions.

It builds on the idea of social command centers – where more real time knowledge about the customer can be accessed more than ever before.

The idea is that this group of people together can provide more value than the sum of its parts.  If you get people from marketing, sales, IT, HR, brand, customer service etc. making decisions, it will behave like a catalyst for customer experience and innovation – and the brand.

Just like Newton’s Cradle, customer hubs is about alignment to get things moving. It’s about being able to move as fast as a smaller more agile organisation but having the advantage of staying big.

You can read more from Martin about customer hubs here.

New Year, Big Changes

If you haven’t heard the news about the changes to NixonMcInnes you can read up the full detail here.

In short, NM have decided to decentralise the business and many of the consultants will become associates and spinning off their own initiatives.

For me, these changes mean something BIG, SCARY but very EXCITING!

….I will be starting up my own business with Danielle Sheerin as my business partner, launching February 1st!

We will be calling ourselves BrightCultures and we will be focusing on digital transformation.

Specifically our focus will be on helping organisations to align their digital strategies, cultures and leadership, to help them thrive in a complex, uncertain world.

We know that digital and social technologies have changed the ways that the business world operates and organisations need to adapt to meet this challenge; to thrive in the post digital world they need to be authentic, innovative and collaborative.

This is where BrightCultures can help:

  • working with organisations to understand what this shift means for each part of their operations, for example, customer experience, innovation, internal comms, etc
  • evolving digital, social and comms strategies accordingly
  • supporting them to build their capabilities internally and implement these strategies effectively
  • and creating a climate that allows them to deliver responsive and resilient digital leadership at all levels of the organisation

I’ll include our BrightCultures website soon, but for now, I’d like everyone reading this blog to keep us in mind for anything and spread the word.

Massive thanks to all those who have supported us so far including Tom Nixon, Nick Shepherd and Leesa Albrighton to name a few….sending you all lots of love and happiness for the New Year! Let’s rock 2015!