6 Ways to Protect Customer Data and Win Trust

customer data protection

Your customers’ data is a hot commodity: A single hacked email account can go for as much as $15, and online banking info can be worth up to 10% of what’s in the account. When a customer worries about how their data is used, they’re prudent, not paranoid. In the modern business environment, data is often an organization’s most valuable asset, so it’s in everybody’s best interest to not only keep data safe but reassure the customer that all their property—physical and virtual—is in good hands. Here are some ways to earn both your customers’ business and trust.

1. Limit the data you collect on customers

It looks and feels great when every field is filled in your CRM software, but do you really need all that data? According to renowned author and TV personality Marie Kondo, if you’re not using something, you don’t need it. Applying her reasoning, if you’re not calling customers, there may be no purpose in collecting their phone numbers. The same goes for data used to categorize customers. If you can categorize them based on products, contact dates, or position in the sales funnel, you may be better off than if you use their personal data to put them into groups.

It is best to focus on the data you will use for direct customer outreach. Keep in mind that, from a customer’s perspective, revealing some data makes them feel a bit more exposed than disclosing other information. Before collecting the following types of personal data, consider if you have a legitimate business use and be prepared to explain that reasoning to your customers.

  • Home address – Their work address, unless they work from home, feels less intrusive.
  • Home phone number – Providing a business phone number may be less intimidating.
  • Social security number – A social is one of the crucial keys to identity theft.

2. Tell customers how and where their data is protected—in writing

As is the case with most business transactions, when in doubt, write it out. Tell your customers, in writing, how their data is protected. Not only does this help reinforce their sense of confidence, but it also gives them something to show a nervous spouse or other stakeholders in the event questions arise.

It’s okay to be specific, too. You can outline the data security providers you use and send your customers an email if the provider changes. You can also discuss features of data protection such as:

  • The level of encryption used
  • The type of cloud or physical storage used
  • The steps to take in the event of a breach

3. Share with customers how their information is used

Nothing builds confidence better than transparency. If you’re using customer data, let them know—up-front and without ambiguity. In some cases, they won’t mind their data being used, but regardless, giving an honest heads up may help build trust. And for many organizations, data privacy regulations require you to make this disclosure to your customers.

If you’re uncomfortable explaining, in a blanket disclaimer, how you use customer data, you can provide either a clickable link or a phone number to call where they can get more information. Regardless of how you present or phrase the information, be careful to avoid giving the impression that you’re hiding something. When customers provide their data, they’re engaging in a transaction where they’re “paying” with valuable information. As the entity on the other end of that transaction, you should feel an obligation to be open about how you’re using their data.

4. Share with customers how you stay up to date with data security best practices

When you show that you’re genuinely invested in data security measures, you’re telling your customers that you respect—and value—their privacy. Describing how you keep abreast with the latest development in data security measures can help instill a greater sense of confidence in your customers. If you do any of the following, it’s worth sharing that info with customers:

  • Stand up a data security program
  • Send company representatives to online or in-person conferences about data security
  • Train all employees about cybersecurity and data security best practices
  • Engage in periodic security testing measures to make sure their data is safe

5. Communicate with customers in a language they will understand

Clarity is key. It’s easy for any IT-related content to devolve into a confusing alphabet soup of acronyms. Your customers may get confused and frustrated with obscure abbreviations and super-techy verbiage. It’s always better to err on the side of clarity. Use short, clear sentences when you communicate with customers. Presume they have little IT background knowledge. It’s preferable to occasionally bore a tech-savvy customer than to confuse a normal one.

6. Increase audit activity by accredited organizations

Accredited organizations that specialize in auditing your data security system can be a powerful asset. You may not have the time to stay as current as you’d like when it comes to the latest developments in the IT security world. Security audit companies stay abreast of everything from the latest viruses, to low tech hacking techniques. Hiring one to give your data security measures a once-over can help address current security gaps and prevent future problems.

You can also parlay an audit into a marketing tool. After the audit, feel free to share some of the more positive findings with your customers. If several weaknesses were revealed, make the necessary changes, and then share your upgrade measures with your customer base. Remember that even though you may feel embarrassed about an audit revealing a flimsy data security system, your customers just want to know that their data is safe. Therefore, each improvement to your data security can help win you a valuable vote of confidence.

Some of the most crucial data is found in everyday email communications. With end-to-end encryption, you can help put an impenetrable wall between important data and unauthorized access. With Virtru’s suite of products, you can rest assured that your data—and your customers’ data—are well-protected. Reach out today to learn more about how Virtru can help your organization secure your most sensitive data and put customer privacy at the forefront.