Data Protection: The Key to Customer Confidence

What inspires customer confidence? Great service and reliable information certainly help customers trust a brand. However, in our modern digital age, companies need to offer much more to win loyalty. As data breaches become more prevalent, it’s more critical than ever to assure customers that their personal information is safe. According to Pew Research, 64% of Americans have personally experienced such a breach. With the enactment of GDPR, the European Union is taking great measures to ensure that customers don’t suffer from such incidents. Here are five steps your company can take to protect customer data and win their confidence.

Communicate clearly with customers.

Telling your customers how their data will be used is a critical first step. In your terms of service, clearly outline where their data is being stored and how it will be handled. Avoid any obscure language, and identify any third parties that might access this data. Outline the entire process from the reception to use of customer information, and keep customers updated when these terms are changed at any time.

Secure the customer experience at every step.

Throughout the customer journey, you will need to take measures to protect data. The best way to reassure customers is to let them know when these steps are being taken. For example, when a customer logs in to his account on your website or through an app, use a password or two-step verification system. If a customer is discussing a possible purchase with an agent in a public manner (on Facebook, for example), the agent should move the customer to a private channel and tell him that this step is intended to protect privacy. Lastly, at the moment of purchase, payment information should be encrypted. Customers should be informed that their purchase is secure, and reliable methods of payment (such as credit cards and PayPal) should be offered.

Give customers the right to opt out.

Customers must be given the right to opt out at any time. For example, if your brand wishes to send notifications via SMS or an app, ask for permission. Marketing emails should likewise feature a link that allows customers to unsubscribe. And if they have any issues with your terms of service, invite them to contact you for additional information.

Put data in the right hands.

Your company does not have to share data with all employees. Rather, limit data access to just the employees who interact with customers directly—such as customer service and sales agents. In addition, consider hiring individuals who have a background in security to better manage data, and hire independent security auditors to monitor your data practices.

Consider high-tech security features.

If you want to go a step beyond passwords, you may consider more sophisticated technology. For example, voice biometrics and fingerprint ID are highly reliable ways for customers to identify themselves. Taking steps such as moving data to the cloud or using machine learning to detect suspicious behavior are also effective ways to prevent data breaches. Protecting customer data may be a legal obligation, but communicating your practices clearly is a choice. By choosing to relay your practices honestly and frequently with your customers and taking measures to go beyond standard requirements, you will win their confidence and loyalty.

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