As we transition towards a cookie-less world and adopt first-party customer data, consumer privacy and data security have become increasingly important in managing customer trust and legal compliance.
It’s crucial for management, marketing, and sales to stay on top of privacy laws and measures that affect their interactions with customers.
In fact, research from McKinsey & Company found that 87 per cent of respondents said they “would not do business with a company if they had concerns about its security practices” and 71 per cent “would stop doing business with a company if it gave away sensitive data without permission.” Customers want privacy, and some want complete anonymity. It is imperative that organizations strike the right balance between gathering enough information to help drive business strategy and satisfy customer expectations, while protecting their data and privacy.
Here are six consumer privacy measures companies need to know in order to thrive as consumer expectations and industries evolve.
While it may be tempting to cast a wide net for data, companies should opt to collect only information that is necessary for successful business operations. This reassures users that may be wary about sensitive personal data that would otherwise be irrelevant to their interactions with your company. Doing so also helps your team better prioritize and focus on crucial data points instead of unnecessary noise.
This is where first-party data can be particularly helpful. First-party data is offered freely by consumers (think email opt-ins or purchase history) and it paints a clear picture of individuals who are actively interested in your company’s products or services.
Additionally, when you limit the scope of the data your organization collects, it minimizes your liability in case of a data breach. Among respondents of McKinsey & Company’s survey on consumer data and privacy, 52 per cent said they trust companies that do not ask for information that is not relevant to their product. A lean data collection policy can go a long way too, as that instills consumer trust, and customers are more inclined to shop with and refer their friends to businesses they trust.
Preventative measures like these are important given the high costs companies incur due to data breaches. IBM’s 2022 Cost of a Data Breach Report found the average cost of a data breach is $4.35 million USD. In all cases, it is better to be proactive than reactive with data security.
One of the best ways to limit data abuse or leaks is with role-based access or permissions. For instance, marketing and sales only need access to contact information and behavioral data, not information such as payment details. You should also be selective about which employees are granted administrative access along with permissions to modify or delete customer data. This ensures customer information is not mishandled or lost.
IBM’s report discovered that 19 per cent of data breaches were due to stolen or compromised credentials, which could be mitigated when fewer users have advanced permissions to access customer data. Platforms like Salesforce make this easy too, with custom permission settings. Additionally, Salesforce ensures data is securely stored and consolidated as a single source of truth.
Other useful security measures include:
Auditing and logging
Strong password policies
As companies balance security and user experience, marketing technology like customer data platforms (CDPs) will also become increasingly important. CDPs empower companies to safely and strategically interpret first-party data, which can lead to a better understanding of consumers, personalized experiences, and deeper insights.
Marketers and salespeople need to adhere to email marketing and SMS laws such as:
United States’ CAN-SPAM Act
United States’ Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
While management and legal should review these rules thoroughly, here are a few highlights:
These regulations help to protect consumers and give companies clear guidance on how to manage customer data and communications.
At the purchase stage, customers may provide their credit card information to complete their order. To stay compliant with PCI regulations, companies need to utilize secure payment gateways for online payments or a touch-tone solution over the phone.
This ensures that your call center agents and salespeople are not in custody of sensitive customer payment information, while also providing customers with a comfortable means of completing their purchase. From 2013 to 2014, Target incurred $162 million USD in costs after customer credit card information was exposed to hackers.
While consumers grant businesses permission to collect data, they can also request their personal data is deleted by companies. Policies such as GDPR set a standard expectation that consumers have a “right to be forgotten,” giving anyone the ability to request erasure of their personal information.
Platforms like Salesforce provide seamless data deletion services across its services to help organizations comply with these requests.
Traditionally, teams have viewed data privacy and security as a burden. However, there is a shift in what consumers now expect from brands. As a result, managers, marketers, and salespeople can use consumer privacy measures to increase trust and improve their relationships with customers. Indeed, while securing customer data and staying up-to-date with new regulations requires ongoing effort and resources, the benefits outweigh the costs in preventing expensive data breaches and in boosting positive brand sentiment.