Management, Small Business
How to Make Sure Your Customers’ Data is Protected
Trust is a key part of any customer relationship. If people don’t trust your business, they won’t work with you. Simple as that.
Losing customer data – particularly if it falls into the wrong hands – can leave your businesses with work to do to regain customers’ trust.
The thing is, you need that data in order to function as a business and in order to provide a service that meets expectations in today’s world of personalisation and convenience culture.
So what can you do to make sure that you keep your customers’ data (and their trust in you) safe?
Understand Your Obligations
First things first, it’s vital that you have your house in order when it comes to your legal obligations. As a data controller, you are required to adhere to the Data Protection Act which says;
- You must only collect data for a specific purpose
- You must keep it secure
- You must ensure that it is relevant and up to date
- You must only keep the data for as long as you need it
- You must allow the data subject to see the information on request
Here, we’ll be paying particular attention to point 2 and looking at what you can implement in your own business to keep customers’ data secure.
Assess Your Risk
A great place to start is to look at your current vulnerabilities. What processes do you already have in place to store and secure your data? What issues are you already aware of that need to be prioritised? What processes are clearly missing that need to be implemented?
By ensuring that you keep a record of any known risks, you can prioritise them and make sure you have a plan in place to resolve them.
Should the worst happen, this will also show that you were aware of the problem and working towards a fix which will look much better than if you appear to have been completely unaware!
Check Your Systems
Do you have security software and malware protection in place? Is it up to date? These might seem like obvious questions but if data security isn’t a business priority then something like this might easily be overlooked.
Are your systems password protected? How firmly do you enforce and monitor password protection?
When a member of staff leaves the business, do you cancel their passwords to ensure no further use?
You may have the most robust data security processes possible in place – but if your staff aren’t fully aware of these processes then your business is still very much at risk.
What do you do to ensure that all members of staff are conscious of their own role in protecting your customers’ data?
Don’t Forget the Physical Security of Your Office Equipment
When we think about data security we tend to picture hackers and people working from afar to gain access to our systems. Theft of devices such as mobile phones, memory sticks and laptops is also a common way for data breaches to occur so make sure that any personal data stored on such devices is protected.
Plan for the Worst
If the worst does happen then a smooth data breach recovery process could make a huge difference in saving your relationships with customers and your business reputation. Make sure you have a process in place to allow you to contact your affected customers as soon as possible to let them know what has happened and to offer them a way to put their minds at rest.
If you’d like to know more about how to protect your customers’ data, then here are a few more resources for you to take a look at;