by Debi Enders
Most consumers understand that businesses use the personal information they collect to deliver more personalized products and services.
And many appreciate the benefits, whether it means a discount on a service they purchase frequently or a recommendation for a product to try.
Customer trust can quickly erode, however, when personal data — from credit card numbers to shoe size — falls into the wrong hands. If that happens to your business, you not only will face potential legal and financial issues but also could see the value of your brand significantly diminished in your customers’ eyes.
One recent study (TRUSTe/National Cyber Security Alliance U.S. Consumer Privacy Index) found that more Americans are worried about their data privacy than about losing their primary source of income! Protecting customer data, therefore, should be high on your list of business priorities. Here are a few ways to get started:
1. Keep encryption practices up to date. Encryption technologies change rapidly, so schedule updates regularly. Hackers are drawn to outdated systems.
2. Minimize the data you collect. Collect only the information you absolutely need and give customers the opportunity to opt out of sharing it with others.
3. Think about deleting data. Yes, there are business advantages to keeping customer information on file. Depending on your business, your customers might appreciate privacy more than a special data-driven offer.
4. Limit data access. If you decide to keep customer data, look for ways to minimize who can access it. The more you limit access, the fewer weak links there will be for hackers to breach.
5. Communicate with customers. Using simple, clear terms, let your customers know what you are doing to keep their information safe.
The bottom line: Lost customer data is easier to recover than lost customer trust. When you tell customers how you are protecting their information, you increase their level of comfort with your company. And that is good news for your brand.
Debi Enders (email@example.com) is vice president, small business banking at Commerce Bank.
Submitted 2 years 110 days ago