There is naturally a level of risk associated with data collection, especially if it is personal information.
Customer data security can be protected in a number of ways, and in the digital age, there’s quite a lot to cover in that space. There are three key areas in which you can protect data – in your people, in your processes, and in your technology.
First of all, people - the understanding that data security is everyone’s responsibility from the CEO down to frontline customer facing staff should be a core part of any data protection effort. This is best addressed through awareness and education to ensure that anyone who may handle any customer data does so only through appropriate channels, and only in line with their role.
In terms of processes, this refers to how any gathered information is channelled from the point that someone fills in a customer feedback form, swipes a payment card at the till, or makes a phone call to the customer service department.
Organisations need a system for ensuring customers can find out how information that is gathered will be used, shared, and stored for as long as it is needed. We as marketers need to balance providing great services to customers without being overburdened by process, with protecting customer data appropriately, and this is strengthened by us being clear on why we’ve gathered it, where we are storing it and how long we will store it for.
Last, but not least, is technology. Data and technology go hand in hand, and we live in a world where cybercrime is now a very lucrative business for people who want to do bad things. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to diminish, and so we have to make sure that technology is protected through rigorous patching and maintenance, replacing outdated systems which cannot be protected against modern threat.
We also need to make sure that our people and processes support good protection of our technology, so that we are not likely to be hit by the next major computer virus or malware outbreak.
The data you hold is likely to be one of your most important assets – so don’t take the security of it for granted.
David Higgins is an Information Security Manager at Loyalty NZ.