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Customer data privacy: Where to draw the line?

20th Jul 2021
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Undoubtedly, customer data privacy is sacred and organizations who collect it must keep it from being misused at any cost. Back in the day, when companies secured data offline and locked it in filing cabinets, privacy concerns were far less complicated.

In today’s digital age, however, the customer data privacy landscape has dramatically transformed. With the advent and widespread usage of Big Data, breaches and leaks in information are a reality, so proper data storage is paramount. 

If you gather customer data daily, you need to know where to draw the line in terms of how much to collect, the best ways to store it, and how to avoid breaches. Sounds overwhelming? It's not if you follow the best practices listed below.

Collect Only the Information You Need

Don't get tempted and go collecting hordes of customer data, just because you can! One of the best practices to ensure data privacy is to collect only the information you need to enhance marketing personalization, product development, and customer care services. 

Also, allow your customers control over the type of information they wish to share. For instance, if your target base is uninterested in sharing their phone number or credit card details, don’t nudge them into providing it. Always use radio buttons to ensure they can choose the type of contact information to provide. Here it means, giving them a choice between providing their email id, cellphone number, postal address, etc.

Another helpful practice to ensure data privacy is to destroy old customer data that is not in use.

Invest in State-of-the-Art IT Servers and Encryption Methods

The primary way to ensure the privacy of sensitive customer data is to invest in a top-notch server and sophisticated encryption method. Make sure you don't use low-encryption cloud software for data storage. The data security expert for Blockparty recommends the usage of a decentralized database with an SHA 256-bit encryption. 

Here are a few other ways to keep data on your web portal safe:

  • Make sure to set up a robust firewall. Doing so secures customer data from hackers and other spyware and malware. 
  • Make sure you use an HTTPS protocol. This feature offers end-to-end encryption of website data, thus safeguarding the information users share on your website.
  • Invest in reliable anti-virus software.
  • Ensure your VPN service is robust as it entirely encrypts data exchanged by your team with customers or with each other during online live sessions.
  • Employ multi-factor authentication to keep customer data safe from data thieves.

As long as you delete old customer files and ensure data safety, you will automatically take care of customer data privacy.

Audit Data Regularly 

Routinely review data-related processes to identify the scope for improvement. Sit with your IT executives and hammer out the answers to the following questions:

  • What kind of data do we store? Include various customer data sub-categories and their sources.
  • How is customer data distributed, and who all have access to it?
  • What are the possible scenarios through which customer data may leak or get stolen? 
  • How are you losing data? That is, if such a thing is happening.

Audit the entire process your customer data goes through – right from its entry to distribution to deletion.  

Let Customers Know about Your Data Usage Policies 

Firstly, sensitize your teams about data privacy to instill a culture where customer data is treated with utmost care. Secondly, be transparent about how you intend to use the data collected from customers. How? Begin by drafting a crisp and easy-to-read privacy policy. 

More often than not, companies create lengthy privacy and data usage policy documentation. This confuses customers. Your privacy policy must offer target audiences information on the following three parameters.

Outreach: Meaning whether or not and how often you will use customer data to share your brand’s marketing communication.

Third-party access: Whether or not an external party will be privy to your customer data.

Monitoring: Let customers who are about to give you data know the grade of encryption you use. Basically, this means how robustly you safeguard data.

Over to You

Brass tacks! No matter how brands collect data, they need to base their customer privacy strategy on the pillars of: 

  • Permission from customers
  • Usage transparency towards customers
  • Education for data handlers, and 
  • Audits that cover collection, distribution, and security reviews

Lastly, you must remember that keeping customers' data safe is not only an ethical practice but also a legal responsibility. No wonder there exist national data security and privacy laws like the GDPR to safeguard people's data.

As a marketer, you must realize that data privacy is now an integral part of a customer's brand experience. So, lead by example when it comes to maintaining customer data privacy. 

 

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