When running a business, it is inevitable that you are going to have to collect customer data in order to provide a positive service to your customers. Whether it is email addresses, billing addresses, full names, payment details, and more. With this in mind, protecting customer data needs to be an important priority for your business. If you have ever seen the news when a customer data breach occurs, the results for the business involved can be expensive or even change the future of the business altogether.

Regardless of what kind of business you are running, there is unfortunately a risk of a data breach. However, if you are a small business, you may not yet have all of the resources necessary to prevent a data breach. Hackers want to access the valuable data that you have collected relating to your customers. In this blog, we shall be looking at the 7 best practices for protecting customer data.

7 Best Practices For Protecting Customer Data

Complete an audit to see what data you are storing

Before looking for ways to keep customer data safe, you need to know exactly what customer data you are storing, how much is there, and where is it being stored. Often, data can end up being stored in multiple customer data silos with different departments collecting different customer data. Completing a customer data audit means that you can calculate what data you are storing, where it is being stored, and ways that this data can be better protected. 

Organise levels of access

Do all of your staff need access to your customer’s vital data? Probably not. It is important that relevant members of your team can access the data that they need quickly, that is unquestionable. However, can you organise and manage this level of access in a way that reduces the number of risky entry points that hackers can prey upon? Of course! Create different levels of access for your customer data tools. You can then assign these levels to each employee to ensure you are keeping track of who has access and when they access this information.

Encrypt customer data

By storing customer data and encrypting it when it is not being used or is being sent across machines, you will ensure an extra layer of protection for your customers. If the worst happens and a hacker manages to get their hands on some of your customer data, by encrypting your customer data the hacker will not be able to access any of the information being stored. Implement an SSL certificate on your website if you are taking payments. Create password-protected encryption to ensure extra security.

Educate your employees

Knowledge is power especially when looking at ways of protecting customer data. Educating your employees on what to look for when interacting with scammers is vital. Employees need to look out for scammer emails, phone calls, and letters. They must know what to do when dealing with these kinds of situations and where to report any of these issues. Training on data safety and prevention of data breaches will save your company so much money in the long run.

Backup all customer data to a secure location

If you need to store customer data, it is important that you are able to store this data in a secure location. By backing up your customer data to a secure location, you will be able to access customer data if there is an eventual breach or loss of access to customer data. This will help with being able to contact your customers regarding the data breach for example. Accept the risks of storing customer data and prepare for any potential issues that are likely to occur.

Delete data when it is no longer required

The best way of protecting customer data is to delete and dispose of it securely as soon as it is no longer required. Whether data has duplicate entries or is no longer required. Ensure that it is being disposed of correctly and according to company procedure. Aim to destroy all physical documents and digital copies of information. Make sure there are no forgotten data silos storing vital information as these are still potentially able to be accessed by hackers.

Create a clear privacy policy for customers

How will you manage my data? Where will this data be used? When will this data be deleted? Customers are looking for answers to all of these questions and more before they will likely be willing to share private and confidential data with your business. By creating a privacy policy you will be able to clearly define the answers to all of these questions and more. This will also cover you for any issues that could occur as well as clearly define what you will do in case of a data breach.

So there you have 7 ways of protecting customer data as a business. At its most basic you will want to complete an assessment of what data you currently have, where it is stored, and arrange for it to be kept as secure as possible. How you do this is up to you, however the more investment that you put into customer data protection, the more secure this data will be. Losing customer data is not just morally wrong, it can also cost your company a large amount of money in the long run. Here at Sefas, we offer a customer communications management tool that allows you to effortlessly craft your company’s communications. To find out more about what our software can offer to your business, please get in contact today.