GDPR and CRM – Managing Your Data For Compliance

28 June 2022

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are a powerful tool for managing customer data and relationships. They allow you to store and organise customer information for the benefit of your business. However, with the introduction of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), there are new compliance requirements that you need to meet in order to protect people’s personal data. In this article, we will take a look at GDPR and the implications for CRM in more depth. We’ll cover what compliance means for CRM solutions and how you can ensure your CRM processes data are in line with GDPR compliance.

What Is GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is an EU law that came into effect on May 25, 2018. This new GDPR legislation replaces the 1995 EU Data Protection Directive. It strengthens EU rules regarding the protection of personal information by giving individuals more control over their personal data and establishing new rights for consumers.

GDPR applies to any company that processes the personal data of European Union citizens, regardless of where the company is located. If you fail to comply with GDPR, you can be subject to heavy fines.

Post Brexit, the provisions of EU GDPR were directly incorporated into UK law as the UK GDPR. In essence, there are minimal adjustments to the core data protection principles, rights and obligations.

There are two main principles of GDPR as follows.


GDPR holds businesses accountable for how they store and process customer information and contact details, including what they do with the data. Rather than allowing businesses to self-regulate, GDPR requires companies to take responsibility for ensuring their practices are compliant. This means that proper records must be kept of all data processing activities, and companies must be able to show that they have taken steps to protect people’s personal data.


GDPR requires companies to be transparent about how they are using personal information. This means people have the right to know what personal data is being collected, why it is being collected, and how it will be used.

Companies must also provide people with clear and concise information about their rights under GDPR. Data privacy policies must be readable, and opt-out options must be easily accessible. If an individual’s records are compromised, then the company must promptly send out breach notifications to those affected.

GDPR grants eight rights to individuals resident in the EU:

  • The right to be informed: You must provide individuals with clear and concise information about your information processing activities.
  • The right of access: Individuals have the right to access their information, and you must provide them with a copy of it upon request.
  • The right to rectification: You must correct any customer record that is inaccurate or incomplete.
  • The right to erasure: You must destroy an individual’s record upon request in certain circumstances.
  • The right to restrict processing: You can only process an individual’s information and contact details in limited circumstances.
  • The right to data portability: You must provide individuals with their information records in a format that they can easily transfer to another controller.
  • The right to object: You must stop handling an individual’s data upon request in certain circumstances.
  • The right to avoid automated decision-making: You must not implement any decisions about individuals solely based on automated programming.

As part of GDPR, every business that handles EU customer data needs to have a comprehensive privacy policy in place that outlines how they collect, use, store and protect all customer information. This privacy policy must be easily accessible to individuals, and it must also be written in clear and concise language.

What Counts As Personal Data?

Under GDPR, personal data is any information that can be used to identify a natural person. This includes, but is not limited to, names, addresses, email addresses, IP addresses, sales history, and Internet user cookies.
As a result, websites are required to obtain explicit consent from users, who must hit enter before the business can store or access cookies on their user device. In the case of information and contact details related to children, businesses are also required to obtain the consent of their parent or guardian.

Under GDPR, data collection must be:

  • Legitimate and necessary: You can only collect and process information that is necessary for the purpose of providing services that you have specified. Even if there is a legitimate reason for adding this information to your database, you may only obtain information that is absolutely necessary.
  • Accurately and carefully collected: You must take steps to ensure that the customer details you collect are accurate and up-to-date.
  • Processed fairly: You must be transparent about how you are using your customer information, and you must treat individuals fairly.
  • Erased when necessary: You must delete or destroy details that are no longer needed and support any deletion request by an individual.

What Does GDPR Compliance Mean For CRM Systems?

All businesses that use CRM must ensure their system is GDPR compliant and maintains a high level of data security. As such, your CRM system must protect the personal information of EU citizens and give individuals the control to exercise their rights under GDPR.

Most companies that design CRMs have already taken the necessary steps to make their systems GDPR compliant. However, it’s always a good idea to check with your CRM provider to ensure their system meets all the requirements of GDPR.

Here are some of the specific requirements your CRM should meet when handling customer details:

  • Your CRM must document the reason for each processing activity.
  • It should be straightforward for users to delete an individual’s details upon request.
  • Users must be able to provide data subjects with a copy of their data if required.
  • Users must be able to correct any inaccurate or incomplete personal data.
  • Your CRM must have the ability to stop handling an individual’s information upon request.
  • Sensitive data, such as health records, must be sectioned off so that user access is only available for authorised personnel.
  • Your CRM system must allow users to export customer details in a format that can be easily transferred to another controller if needed.

While these are some of the most important requirements for GDPR compliance, there are other requirements that your CRM system must meet. Consult with your CRM provider and a GDPR expert to ensure your system is fully compliant.

How Your CRM Can Help You Comply With GDPR

A good CRM can help you effectively manage customer information in a compliant manner. You can keep track of where your customer details came from, how it’s being used and who has access to it.

Many CRMs have the ability to store consent forms and track when consent was given. This information can be extremely useful if you ever need to show that you have the necessary consent to process an individual’s information or send marketing communications.

Here are some of the ways your CRM can help you manage records.

Better Organisation

One of the benefits of a CRM is its ability to store and manage all your customer details in one centralised location. This makes it much easier for users to keep track of this data and manage it in a compliant manner.

Easier Consent Management

It’s easier to manage consent with a CRM solution. You can use your CRM to track when customers opt in and for what purpose. Your CRM can also automatically send reminders to customers and clients when processing personal data, and their consent is about to expire.

Built-in Security

Most CRMs come complete with multi-level security and data encryption features that protect the data you collect. These features help you restrict access to sensitive processing data, encrypt stored information, and monitor user access.

Convenient Data Export

You can use your CRM to export customer records in a format that can be easily transferred to another controller if necessary. This also makes it easier to facilitate access requests.

Easy Subscription Management

Under GDPR, customers have the right to unsubscribe from your marketing communications at any time. A CRM system helps you manage subscriptions, send out double opt-in emails and easily comply with opt-out requests.

Bulk Updates & Actions

If you need to make a change to how you process personal data, such as updating your consent forms, you can use your CRM to make these changes quickly and easily. You can also use your CRM to take bulk actions, such as deleting all records for customers who have unsubscribed from your services or communications.

Frequently Asked Questions About CRM & GDPR

Here are some frequently asked questions about GDPR and CRM.

How can I make sure my CRM system complies with GDPR?

The first step is to check with your CRM provider to see if their services meet all the requirements of GDPR. You can also seek support from a GDPR expert to ensure your CRM database is fully compliant.

What happens if I’m not compliant with GDPR?

If you’re not maintaining GDPR compliance, you could be subject to fines of up to 4% of your annual global revenue or €20 million (whichever is greater). You could also be subject to other penalties, such as being banned from handling personal data.

How can I get started with GDPR compliance?

The best place to start is by consulting with a GDPR expert or law firm. They can help you assess your current level of data security, identify any flaws, and develop a plan to become fully compliant. Using a CRM system is a great foundation for meeting your compliance obligations.

How long can I keep customer records in my CRM?

You can only keep personal information for as long as necessary. Once the information is no longer needed, you must remove it from your database. That means you’ll need to implement a procedure for regularly deleting old records.

What is the right to be forgotten?

The right to be forgotten is the right of an individual to have their details erased. This right only applies in certain circumstances, such as when the information is no longer needed, or the individual withdraws their consent.

Do I need to appoint a Data Protection Officer?

Under GDPR, you must appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO) if you handle large amounts of customer data or if your core activities involve the handling of data. Your DPO is responsible for ensuring your compliance with GDPR, including your compliance with the principles of data minimisation and accuracy.

How can I ensure data quality in my CRM?

You should implement processes for regularly verifying the accuracy of the information in your CRM. You must also have a procedure for correcting any inaccuracies that are found.

Related articles in CRM to support your technology adoption