The new year is a time of firsts for many companies. One such thing lots of companies introduce each year is an aggressive marketing campaign, design to attract, retain, or engage customers. While marketing has come a long way in being more personalized, less gimmicky, and generally providing more value across the board, one thing that has also changed is its commitment to customer privacy. More and more businesses are coming under fire for infringing on customer rights, losing important customer data, and selling data without customer approval.
When it comes to protecting customer data as a company, there are a few best practices to ensure you remain on the right side of the law, and keep your customers comfortable with giving you the data you need.
Limit Access to Customer Information
One of the best ways to ensure customer data doesn't fall into the wrong hands is by limiting the amount of folks that have access to it. Everyone on your team shouldn't have regular access to private, sensitive data, and those who do have access should be carefully monitored and tracked. There should be a clearly identifiable path to track those that deal with customer data-- so if anything does go awry, the issue can be identified and resolved quickly.
Refrain from Collecting Unnecessary Data
The more data you have in your digital storehouse, the easier it may be for hackers or viruses to find their way into it. The bet practice for any company that needs to collect sensitive data is to only collect what is needed, and to store that data safely and securely. It's simply more difficult to keep up with an overwhelming amount of data, and it's also much easier to overlook potential leaks when there's just so much to comb through. The less data you have, the less liability you assume if something happens to go wrong. If you find you need more data down the line for more advanced algorithms, new products, or more research, make the decision to collect more only when it's absolutely necessary!
Be Transparent About How You're Using Customer Data
Customers deserve to know what's going on with their data, and a policy of transparency can go a long way in making them feel more comfortable with what it is you're collecting. Transparency can also help you cover your tracks in the unfortunate event of data loss or data theft. When customers know where their data goes and why, they're better equipped to deal with situations involving a breach. However, if they're in the relative dark about what it is you're doing, it's much more likely that you'll bear the brunt of the blame for any issues, no matter how many precautions you may have taken to prevent them.
Protecting customer data is an ongoing battle that involves constantly leveraging the best in security, encryption and transparency in order to make sure your customers feel safe and secure. While there are hundreds of best practices for data protection, these are a great starting point and can pave the way to helping your team develop more strategies that directly relate to your particular needs.