5 Essential Customer Data-protection Tips for Your Business
In a story that made international headlines in 2018, British Airways was targeted by hackers who seized the private data of about 500,000 customers. So serious was this security breach that the UK government levied a fine of more than $200,000 on the airline.
And as big as that fine was, it was small potatoes compared to the $18.5 million retailer Target had to pay from a 2013 attack that saw the private information of as many as 70 million of its customers made off with by hackers.
These are just two of many examples of what can happen when businesses fail to implement adequate customer data-protection policies. And, while there’s a good chance that your business isn’t as big or as lucrative a target as these two household names, the point still stands: With success and growth comes a greater risk of attack from criminals looking to steal your customers’ data.
Consumer data protection has become a major issue, and business leaders ignore it at their own peril. Your customers are certainly taking it seriously—and if they think you aren’t, they’ll be quick to spend their money elsewhere. A PricewaterhouseCoopers survey found that 85% of people simply will not do business with a company if they have concerns about its ability to secure their private data.
“85% of people simply will not do business with a company if they have concerns about its ability to secure their private data.” Click To Tweet
Consumer data protection, then, has become an essential component to cultivating customer loyalty, which is, in turn, a critical factor in achieving sustained business growth. The good news is that data security best practices are better understood than ever before, giving businesses ample opportunity to get in front of this threat.
With that in mind, here are five customer data protection tips that no company should fail to implement.
5 Essential Customer Data-protection Tips
Tip #1: Hire a Dedicated Security Lead
Ensuring customer data protection means going above and beyond what’s required by whatever regulatory guidelines to which your industry is subject. After all, many of today’s biggest breaches have come from unconventional attacks that circumvent those guidelines. In the British Airways incident, hackers set up a fake version of the airline’s website, then diverted customers to the fraudulent site, where they were enticed into giving away their private data.
How can a company hope to defend itself against an attack that’s so unconventional in nature? By thinking like the criminals they’re up against. Businesses can better ensure protection from this type of attack by hiring a dedicated IT security expert with the role of making customer data protection a top priority.
As technology evolves, so do methods for breaching its defenses. And because hacking can take a variety of different forms, so, too, should preparedness.
Tip #2: Cultivate Trust and Communication with Your Customers
Taking a proactive approach to data security can also go a long way toward building trust with your customers. If they see that you’re going the extra mile to protect their data, they’re much more likely to feel a sense of loyalty toward you.
The huge media profile of the Target data breach, as well as a few others of similar scope, have put customers on edge concerning the protection of their data. Even more than just a few years ago, customers want to know what you’re doing to protect their sensitive information—and if they suspect you’re not doing enough, they’ll switch to a competitor with a better approach to customer data protection.
So, it’s important to keep customers in the loop about what you’re doing. Ask them regularly if they feel confident in the actions you’re taking on behalf of their security.
Making this kind of effort at transparency yields a couple of benefits:
- First, it cultivates trust with your customers, which as we’ve seen, can build loyalty.
- Second, it also lets you know if they think certain aspects of your customer data-protection efforts are falling short. This gives you the chance to detect potential vulnerabilities from an outsider’s perspective.
Tip #3: Fully Understand Your Customer Journey
One of the best ways to protect your business against unconventional attacks is to fully consider every customer touchpoint. That lesson is illustrated in the British Airways attack, where hackers didn’t directly target the company itself, but instead lured customers away during a part of the customer journey the business leaders probably never considered to be at risk.
And by following tip #2 and opening up a more effective communication policy with your customers, you can get a unique level of insight into just what their journeys, so you can see potential weak points from a new perspective.
Another potential upshot of this data protection tip is that you’ll see your customer journey with fresh eyes, giving you new ways to speak to them in terms of sales and marketing.
Tip #4: Get Your Whole Organization Involved
“Historically, organizations have not had comprehensive, strong data security controls implemented throughout the entire enterprise, through to every end-device,” writes Rebecca Herold at CPO Magazine. And that’s a mistake: Hackers are expert at detecting little-suspected vulnerabilities, and that isn’t restricted to your website or your checkout technology.
Historically, organizations have not had comprehensive, strong data security controls implemented throughout the entire enterprise, through to every end-device.
So, when you’ve formulated a plan of action for customer data protection, don’t make the common mistake of isolating that strategy within your IT department. From your communications technology to your financial reporting, from your HR policies to the physical security of your building, data security should be a priority in literally every corner of your business.
Tip #5: Partner with a Customer Data-protection Expert
As noted earlier, the best way to ensure customer data protection is to enlist the help of a dedicated expert. But maybe you’re not enthusiastic about shouldering the expense of hiring and employing a security expert with the necessary credentials to get the job done—or maybe you operate in a region where the labor supply may prevent you finding a satisfactory candidate.
Worry not. An even more effective solution is entrusting your customer data protection to a third party that’s spend decades developing best practices against security breaches of all shapes and sizes. With more than 20 years of experience in contact center outsourcing, Working Solutions has more first-hand experience with data security than many companies.
From a fully secured and continuously tested IT foundation to skilled agents and experts, our integrated approach to data security is designed to help your business protect assets at every point of the customer journey.
Ready to take your consumer data protection strategy to the next level? Contact us today to learn about what we can do to help.Contact us.