Collecting customer data has undeniable value for businesses — it can help them gain valuable insight into their customers’ behavior and make smarter, more informed decisions.
However, the more data companies collect, the greater the risk (as well as consequences) of data breaches they face.
At the same time, customers have never been more aware of their rights and the importance of personal data privacy.
That’s why it’s essential to take customer data management seriously and constantly work on improving data protection. Here are 6 tips to help you achieve that.
Determine Which Types of Data you Collect and Where it’s Stored
The first step to every successful customer data management strategy is determining which types of customer data you’re collecting. Typically, organizations cover two main types of data — identity and attribute data (who their customers are), and behavioral data (what actions are their customers taking).
Equally important is the location of your data. Knowing exactly where you store which type of your data will help you have easier access to information as well as take additional security measures to protect the most important data within your database.
Collect Only on Critical Data
Determining exactly which types of data you’re storing will also help you reassess if you really need to collect it in the first place.
You want to avoid collecting data that are not necessary to your company. There are three main reasons to do so.
First, collecting unnecessary data overloads your storage and brings additional costs. Second, your customers might be uncomfortable if you collect too much data. Lastly, the more data you store, the bigger the risk of having that data exposed in a data breach.
To help you determine if you really need to collect each piece of data, ask yourself — who needs the data and what for, and also, if you didn’t collect this data, would it affect your regular operations?
Comply with Data Regulations
It is evident that data privacy is becoming more and more important to the public, so we can only expect to see more laws and regulations regarding data privacy.
We already witnessed how these laws completely changed the way companies treat customer data. Companies now need to go out of their ways to gain permission to collect data and be much more transparent about the ways they handle personal data.
When it comes to data management, you don’t want to leave anything to chance, in order to stay compliant, you need to have a detailed plan every step of the way, from collecting and analyzing to storing and deleting customer data.
For example, you can’t simply get rid of your email records however you please. You have to create an email retention policy based on relevant laws and regulations.
However, these laws can vary depending on your industry, location, and business size, so keeping track of different retention requirements can be a challenging task. Manual retention can easily lead to slip-ups and mistakes that can end up being quite costly.
That’s why automating email retention with email archiving and compliance solutions can help you minimize mistakes and stay compliant.
In a climate where data protection regulations are only getting stricter, you can’t afford any mistakes as non-compliance can result in devastating financial, legal, and reputational damage.
Focus on Data Security
It’s simple to understand what data security is — prevention from unauthorized access, disclosure, change, and destruction of data — however, it’s much more complicated to actually put it into practice.
Data protection is one of the most important aspects of customer data management. Your customers want to be assured that their personal data is being safely stored, and failing to do so will result in the break of trust and serious reputational damage.
Apart from negative press, data breaches bring serious financial consequences. IBM’s The Cost of a Data Breach Report shows that the average cost of a data breach in 2020 was 8.64$ million. Moreover, it took companies an average of 280 days to recover from a breach.
Needless to say, most companies can’t afford such disruption to their organization, so it’s best to have a solid data protection plan that will help you prevent these breaches in the first place.
Avoid Data Silos
One of the issues with data management comes from the fact that data is usually collected by different departments within the same company. A lot of the time, these departments are not sharing that data with each other, and that can cause data silos.
While this is mostly not intentional. It can cause big problems to your data management strategy. That’s why you should aim to keep your data stored in a centralized database and promote collaboration and communication between different teams and departments,
Data works best when freely flowing through the organization and when it’s transparently shared across departments. This stimulates collaboration and helps all of your departments be more efficient and productive.
Don’t Forget About Data Quality
Having a good data collection and storage system certainly is important, but don’t forget that you also have to work on constantly updating your database in order to keep it organized and maintain data quality.
Ensuring ongoing data quality is often overlooked, but it is key to successful customer data management. Without proper quality controls in place, your data can quickly become unusable.
One of the best ways to keep your data clean and up-to-date is to perform quarterly or annual data refreshes. Data standardization and data validation can also help keep your data quality up to par.
Over to You
To improve your data management strategy you not only have to keep your customers and their concerns in mind but also keep up to date with the latest data protection regulations and best practices. Ensuring that you’re collecting customer data ethically and storing it in a secure, well-organized database will help you ensure compliance, make your customers happier, and your company more productive.