It doesn’t matter if you ask someone for an email, phone number, or credit card. The moment you receive any information from a consumer, you’re expected to keep that information secure. That’s a tall order. But it’s a necessary one, especially in a world where data breaches can be costly, not to mention embarrassing.
Here’s the good news, though: Protecting customer data can have widespread benefits beyond what you might expect. In fact, when you prioritize data security across your organization, you can improve the customer experience (CX).
What is CX and how does it work? The CX is the complete journey that a buyer has with you. CX is increasingly important for a number of reasons. First, it can serve as a differentiator between you and your competition. This is essential, especially when you’re unable to offer a lower price or higher quality.
A stellar CX also can give you an extra branding boost. Customers who have great encounters with companies are more likely to talk about those encounters on social media. As a result, more people hear about your organization. That’s positive and possibly profitable, too, given that 43% of people use social media to discover new and inviting brands.
So where does securing customer data fit in? When you treat customer data like it’s golden, you reduce your chances of exposing the data to cyber criminals. Plus, you have the opportunity to tell your customers about your data protection strategies. Consumers appreciate knowing that you’ve taken steps to ensure they aren’t risking problems if they buy through your site.
Tips to Protect Customer Data—And Rev up CX
Even if you’ve already taken some strides to protect your customer data, consider trying some of these methods. Each method includes a description, as well as an explanation of how to leverage it for a CX advantage.
1. Develop a customer identity strategy.
Securing customer data can be handled piecemeal. However, a piecemeal approach puts you at risk of security gaps. Therefore, it’s a smart idea to construct a full-fledged customer identity strategy to guide your data decisions.
As Okta explains, a thoughtful customer identity strategy can serve as the foundation for your digital access policies. It can move the needle on CX, too. For example, your customer identity strategy could include the desire to make logins more convenient. This can be done safely with the help of a platform that allows for social logins.
Social logins work by allowing users who are already logged into their social accounts to log into your website. Your web site accepts their credentials without forcing them to take extra steps. Okta estimates that organizations that make logins simpler and faster can expect to see reduced cart abandonment rates.
2. Set strict standards for employee personal device use.
Unless your employees only use company devices, you owe it to customers to have rules surrounding personal device use. Many workers use their own laptops and smartphones to conduct business. When they do, they may gain access to customer data—and inadvertently expose that data.
One way to avoid getting tripped up by employee personal device use is to set up a VPN. A VPN connection safely encrypts and routes information over the Internet. How will your CX be affected positively by a VPN? Your remote employees will be able to solve customer issues and obtain necessary data quickly from anywhere. Yet you’ll still be ensuring that all customer identity information stays internal to your operations.
3. Educate your workers on data security.
Your workers may be putting customer data at risk and not realizing it. For instance, let’s say a salesperson is speaking with a customer. The customer wants to make a purchase but your system is down. Thinking quickly, the salesperson writes down the customers’ card numbers on a scrap of paper. Later, the salesperson transfers the numbers and tosses the paper with the secure information in the trash can.
These types of innocent-seeming security snags happen regularly. Typically, employees have no intention of doing anything wrong. Providing training on data security best practices can help lower data mismanagement incidents. Once informed, your team members can share what they know with customers as well, prompting stronger relationships and CX.
4. Keep backups of all customer data.
Not all data security issues end in cyber crimes or data breaches. Loss of data can be a headache that hurts companies and customers. The larger the data loss, the higher the chances that your business won’t recover. After a major data loss, only 30% of small organizations are able to rebound.
Backing up your data means you’ll never have to tell your customers that the data they gave you has disappeared. You can back up data in multiple places, such as on a protected cloud-based server or a physical one. Regardless of how you conduct your backups, schedule them now. Interruptions aren’t appreciated by consumers and could lead a customer to switch loyalties.
5. Ask your vendors about their data security practices.
No matter what type of vendor you work with, you should talk about security practices. Transparency is essential because you need to know how the vendor protects the data within its domain. Otherwise, you could inadvertently expose all your data—including private information about your customers. Remember: It’s not uncommon for data breaches at one company to affect the data at another company. Your job is to limit that possibility any way you can, even if it means saying goodbye to a long-term vendor.
Your customers won’t necessarily know that you’re vetting your vendors. Still, your due diligence can influence your CX. A vendor may need to use customer data, as in the case of a shipping and fulfillment partner. Knowing that any customer data you provide will be protected reduces future exposure and keeps your workflows moving seamlessly.
By now, most people are accustomed to buying the items they want through online interfaces. They’re looking for ease, convenience, and security. They’re also increasingly looking for an exceptional CX. You can live up to all these expectations by making sure you put data safety measures in place.
Image credit: Anete Lusina; Pexels