Thanks to a record number of data breaches, the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and well-publicized events, like the recent Cambridge Analytica debacle, consumers are more in-tune than ever to the dangers facing their data.
According to a study by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), 57 percent of consumers don’t trust businesses to use their data responsibly. Judging by what’s been in the news recently, that number will only continue to grow unless businesses start doing something about it. Especially savvy consumers are already asking tough questions about consumer data security and doing their due diligence to avoid products and services that could jeopardize their privacy.
In short, failing to take action to protect your customers’ data could cost you a significant amount of business. If you want to strengthen existing customer trust and foster confidence from potential new buyers in today’s data breach environment, here are five consumer data security steps you need to take immediately:
1. Clearly state your policies
Compile your data security policies and translate them from complicated legalese to simple, easy to understand language. If you haven’t already, publish all information on an easy-to-locate privacy page, too. You’ll want to pay particular attention to your explanation of how your company uses and stores user data, because this is what consumers care about most. If they can’t easily understand what will happen to their data once it falls into your hands, they may steer clear of your offerings altogether.
2. Vet your partners
Just because you make every effort to protect user data with strong endpoint security doesn’t mean your vendors and partners are as diligent. If your users’ data is compromised due to another organization’s negligence, it will reflect poorly on your business and could cause irreparable damage to your relationship with customers.
Before you work with another organization, determine whether they enforce data security regulations as strongly as you do. Set your standards high and rule out any vendor or partner who is unable to meet them.
3. Share your data breach response plan
Has your company been breached before? If so, what happened and what have you done to improve data security since then? If not, how would you rectify the situation if your organization fell victim to a cybersecurity breach?
No matter the size of your company, every business needs a comprehensive data breach response plan in addition to policies that help prevent data breaches in the first place. While you don’t need to share every detail of your plan with your customers, details prove you’re serious about security basics, like endpoint security—such as only using devices with built-in security features—and will assuage their fears. After all, it only takes one unprotected device to put your entire organization in jeopardy.
4. Make it easier for users to self-manage data
It’s crucial you make data management as easy as possible for your customers. From providing easy access to privacy settings to sharing a direct line to support if they have any concerns, the easier you make it for users to manage their data, the more they’ll trust you’re doing the right thing on your end, too.
5. Be transparent
The only thing worse than making a mistake with your users’ data is lying about it or attempting to cover it up. The truth has a funny way of coming to light—and, when it does, there’s nothing you can do to stop it from spreading like wildfire and crushing consumer confidence. Be open, honest, and as transparent as possible about your consumer data security and endpoint security efforts. If a misstep leads to a breach, own up to your blunder and share specifics about how you’ll prevent this mistake in the future.
When it comes to handling their personal data, customers are beginning to hold businesses more accountable. As people become more educated about consumer data security, assuring customers you’re protecting their information will become even more crucial to your organization’s future. By using these five steps, you can continue to build consumer trust and keep customers feeling confident about giving your business access to their data.