As the pandemic forces companies all around the world to shift to remote work and digital systems, renewed attention has been drawn to questions around data privacy. After all, consumers might be willing to accept a delayed package, a canceled flight, or an extended service window in light of the pandemic — but compromise their personal data, and it is game over. What can marketers do to meet rising consumer expectations (not to mention regulatory requirements) regarding data privacy?

Welcome to the Era of Consumer Data Protections

This conversation isn’t new. A recent study found that 84% of customers will abandon an online purchase if the website isn’t secure. Back in 2018, the EU passed the landmark General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to increase data privacy requirements, and earlier this year, California announced there would be no pandemic-related delay in enforcing the newly-passed “California Consumer Privacy Act” (CCPA).

These regulations give consumers more awareness and control over exactly what personal information is collected, how it is sold, and how its security is ensured. Marketers have taken a variety of steps to comply with the new regulations, such as making sure web forms include opt-in checkboxes that ask for consent before adding users to a mailing list, providing easy access to privacy statements and disclosures, and creating dedicated web pages where users can submit requests to access, modify, or delete their personal information.

However, while both B2B and B2C marketers have taken extra care for some time to ensure prospects have consented to being targeted, the current climate has made it much more challenging to maintain adequate protections. The pandemic has forced countless non-digital businesses to shift to online operations overnight, and many of these companies didn’t have remote work policies and procedures in place for managing sensitive data outside the office.

When combined with the onslaught of new regulations like the CCPA, these businesses have understandably struggled to protect consumer data as reliably as they used to. But with agile, adaptable tools, marketers can capitalize on this shift to online operations to build consumer trust and demonstrate dedication to data privacy.

How Marketers Can Adapt: Analytics & Automation

Specifically, analytics and automation technologies can help companies meet new legislative requirements around customer and auditor requests much more efficiently and affordably. The CCPA specifies “rights of access” requirements, which means that customers must have a way to ask for a copy of the data categories being gathered, or for their data to be deleted. To comply with these requests quickly and reliably, businesses need digital, do-it-yourself solutions for automating mission-critical tasks like data deletion and extraction. For example, forms that auto-populate with necessary information can help ensure that complicated requirements are met. Similarly, real-time desktop guidance tools or virtual assistants can help employees execute tasks in a specific order, or prompt contact center agents to provide and confirm proper disclosure information.

In addition, analytics tools can provide insights that significantly reduce the potential for human error in complying with complex, global data protection regulations. These tools can be used to identify customer interactions with higher compliance risk and automatically queue them into a predefined auditing workflow. For interactions where customer data is being collected, for instance, these tools can determine whether the proper CCPA or GDPR disclosure has taken place, and then automatically prompt agents in real time to share the required disclosure information and maintain compliance. This reduces the need for manual call listening, freeing up quality monitors and supervisors to be more responsive to complex inquiries.

Analytics tools also make it possible to build queries that identify all interactions that mention key words such as “CCPA,” “personal information,” “remove,” or “disclose.” With these queries, marketers can better understand the volume of traffic pertaining to the CCPA, which can be useful for trending and reporting. In addition, interactions that mention data removal could be automatically funneled into a quality monitoring workflow, enabling reviewers to easily verify that the information requested for removal was indeed removed from the company’s database.

Looking Ahead

As the pandemic pushes companies to conduct more of their business online, the data privacy conversation launched by regulations such as GDPR and CCPA has taken on new urgency all around the world. To maintain compliance — as well as consumer trust — companies must invest in automation and analytics tools that safeguard customer privacy. It is only by investing in solutions that are agile, adaptable, and capable of keeping pace with evolving regulations that organizations will be able to thrive in the new era of consumer data protection.


Earlier this year, the state of California announced that there would be no pandemic-related delay in enforcing the CCPA data privacy act. Many businesses — especially those who had a limited digital presence before the pandemic — have struggled to adapt to these stringent new regulations while transforming their businesses to work in the new normal. But with analytics and automation technologies, companies can make great strides in their data protection infrastructure, helping them to meet both regulatory requirements and consumer expectations.