Five ways to handle customer information responsibly

Marc Gordon
July 02, 2018
By Marc Gordon
Do you collect information from your customers? Marketing expert Marc Gordon shares five ways to collect and manage that information responsibly.

A 2018 study by the Canadian Marketing Association found that 40 per cent of Canadians are willing to share their personal data in exchange for benefits such as free products, improved service, and tailored offers.

However, 77 per cent of Canadians have some concern about their online privacy, specifically the sharing of personal data.

This could be interpreted to mean that if you can make people confident in how you collect and manage their personal data, they would be more likely to want to share it.

So here are five way to responsibly collect and manage your customer’s information.

Be compliant. Beyond local and federal laws, many industries have their own codes of conduct regarding customer data. These can cover everything from how data is collected to what incentives can be offered in return for sharing such data. This should be your starting point when creating a data collection program. [Editor's note: For information on Canada's anti-spam legislation, visit the Government of Canada website.]

Gather only what you need. The more information you ask from customers, the less likely they are to give it to you. Also, more information means more resources needed to manage it. So focus on exactly what data you need, why you need it, and how it will be used.

Store the information securely. While it can be argued that no data is truly safe, you can still reduce the chances of it being hacked. Start with an established, offsite data management company. Not only will it be automatically backed up and physically safe from theft, but many security features come standard. It will also reduce your liability should things get compromised.
 
Have internal policies and guidelines. The weakest link in any security system is the human one. Beyond making sure you control who has access to the data, it is also important to establish clear policies and guidelines. This will ensure the data is used in accordance with local laws while encompassing corporate and social responsibility. Sharing these policies with the public is an important part of building trust.

Be transparent. People don’t mind sharing personal data if they feel doing so will benefit them. So let them know what the deal is. What will it be used for? Will it be shared? What will the customer get out of it? Can they have the data removed if they wish? These are all questions who’s answers should be honest and accessible.

Marc Gordon is a recognized marketing expert, speaker and strategist. His articles appear in over 200 publications worldwide. Visit www.marcgordon.ca or his online show at www.marctv.net for more business tips.

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