Data is one of the most valuable resources in the current commercial environment. The rise of our digital landscape has given companies like yours the ability to gather real-time information about their consumers. When harnessed correctly, this information can help you make better decisions for the direction and success of your organization.
However, collecting, handling, and storing first-party data is risky. Its value can make your company a target for cybercriminals. Not to mention, you are responsible for caretaking potentially millions of stakeholders’ sensitive and private information.
We’re going to examine this situation a little closer. Why can companies benefit from high-quality data transparency and security measures? What steps should you be taking?
Understanding the Consequences
It’s essential first to gain an understanding of how your company and stakeholders stand to suffer from lax data transparency and security measures. It isn’t just the fact that you’re exposing your business and customers to breaches. A variety of ripple effects result from lapses in security and clarity in handling data.
Data leaks and mishandling have serious financial consequences. It costs your company in terms of disrupted operations and recovering from the damage caused. In severe cases, data security breaches threaten employees’ livelihoods and the company’s growth trajectory.
One of the most common effects of lax security is long-term reputational damage. Consumers and industry partners know that when breaches occur, this is often the result of internal issues. After all, 75% of organizations recognize that their most significant workplace data security risk is employee negligence. Indeed, staff actions such as leaving computers unattended, reusing passwords, and utilizing unencrypted tools are among the most common causes of breaches. Consumer perception of security carelessness in your company will likely result in a reluctance to engage with you.
Recognizing the Benefits
Simply understanding the risks of poor data security often isn’t enough of a driver for change. It’s also important to be conscious of how transparency and strong protective measures actively boost an organization.
One of the most profound impacts of these measures is bolstered trust. Consumers, investors, and potential partners recognize that the online space is hazardous. As such, demonstrating clarity on how your business uses data can be a powerful trust signal. This can inform the customer journey, leading to conversions, recommendations, and loyalty. It can also ensure investors and collaborators have more confidence in your organization.
High-quality data transparency and security measures improve visibility within your organization. Many tools to enhance data security utilize methods that boost your ability to see how data is collected and used. This data and action visibility can help your business have real-time knowledge of processes and how efficiently they operate.
Utilizing Customer-facing Tools
Recognizing the needs and benefits of data transparency and security, your next step is implementing reliable tools and practices. This has to go beyond the baseline measures utilized by other businesses. To benefit fully from your efforts, all stakeholders must be clear on your commitment to responsible approaches to data management.
This begins with some attention to your vital customer-facing tools. Make sure that there is a page on your website outlining your data policies. Insert a pop-up on your home page that provides brief information about cookies and data collection. Provide clear links to your full policy page alongside details on security measures you’ve used. It is important to give your visitors the power to deny you anything but essential data collection. While you may miss out on some consumer information, it sends a strong message about your respect for customers and their data. This tends to improve the overall user experience.
It’s also essential to take a strict approach to the tools you utilize to improve the customer journey. Chatbots are increasingly used to handle initial contact. This is true even in sensitive fields like medicine with the advent of healthcare chatbots. This means that a great deal of private information can be provided during an automated conversation session. This approach can make for more efficient and effective interactions. However, the bot must also state how data will be connected and stored. It’s also wise to have practices in place to immediately identify and safely remove anything except essential information, including any identifying characteristics.
Providing Clarity to Employees
One of the most important focuses for your data transparency and security is your employees. As we’ve previously established, they tend to inadvertently or negligently be the cause of most breaches. Therefore, you need to ensure processes are in place to mitigate potential internal risks.
This should begin with producing clear documentation on your company’s data protocols. Make sure there is clarity surrounding how your employees are expected to communicate to consumers how data will be collected and used. Fully outline workers’ responsibilities in handling, storing, and disposing data. Human resources (HR) should also be proactive in clearly defining what data and systems workers in each role are permitted to use.
Give regular security training to your workers, too. This should be geared toward providing your staff with the knowledge and skills to be independently safe handlers of sensitive data. Help them understand why their actions make a difference and the consequences of mishandled information. Empower them to adjust their behavior and identify potential sources of security vulnerability.
Help your business and consumers stay safe by committing to secure data management practices. Doing so will yield crucial benefits, such as bolstering consumer trust. Ensure you utilize consumer-facing tools to maintain transparency about data usage. Provide solid security training to staff to help minimize the potential for breaches. There will always be a certain amount of risk associated with the digital landscape, but your efforts here will help you to gain the benefits of consumer data in the most responsible way possible.
The opinions expressed here by Guest Contributors are their own, not those of Rise Marketing.