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Has Covid become the new GDPR?

If I mention GDPR, how many of you are already groaning into your coffee and shutting your ears? We all remember 2017 – the year that became all about preparing for GDPR. Endless meetings and training sessions explaining what it was, how it was different from the existing regs, who had to pay for it… And a whole new industry launched off the back of ‘preparing your business for GDPR’.

Of course, once it went live in May 2018 mass confusion still reigned. Many businesses stopped sending emails and calling customers, or at least spent a good few hours worrying before pressing the button in fear of breaching these new rules. There were lots of awkward discussions about how to proceed. Marketing and data became a dangerous quicksand. “We can’t do that because of GDPR” was the new catchphrase.

Then gradually we got used to the fact that we probably wouldn’t end up in jail for sending an email to a customer, and we relaxed a bit.

And then – Covid. 

Covid – the new excuse to do nothing.

I know that Covid has had a massive impact on every business. We’ve all had to change our work patterns, adjust our in-office protocols to allow more space, and reduce the number of staff and customers in every building. I know there are genuinely huge delays in certain industries as a result of Covid – the NHS has backlogs in almost every department, the construction industry is struggling to get materials. Call centre operatives started working from home almost overnight, and there were some adjustments to be made.

But let’s be honest.  Don’t you think that there are quite a few businesses now using Covid as an excuse, too?

House purchases are taking longer – and even falling through – due to the backlogs in councils performing searches ‘because of Covid’.

I’ve been to hotel meeting rooms where they can’t provide paper and pens ‘due to Covid’, but you can pass an iPad around the room to enter your car registration for parking.

And when it comes to a hotel check-in, I’ve been told the only breakfast slot available is 6 am ‘because of Covid’, only to arrive in a huge breakfast room and find 5 other diners. Oh, and it’s table service anyway.

Where’s the logic gone? Where’s the customer service?

It’s time for a little common sense

Back in March 2020, Covid hit us like a tsunami. We began living in an unknown world. Businesses had to work in different ways, and of course, there were delays. Staff had to adjust to working from home, equipment was sourced and set up, and new processes were implemented. Delays were to be expected.

But come on, it’s now eighteen months later. We all should know by now how to work from a laptop and which staff absolutely have to come into the office to access specific systems. We know about masks, and table service, and pre-booking tables. The public has adapted to queuing and the ever-changing rules.

Isn’t it time a little common sense returned to businesses as well? Please.

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