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How Data Policies Can Make or Break Your Business: Creating Customer Trust

Technology is changing the world at an incredibly rapid rate. Today, nearly every business has some aspect of its company online. To be able to make purchases without visiting a brick-and-mortar storefront is almost expected. With the COVID-19 pandemic encouraging an even greater uptick in online shopping, it has become utterly essential for businesses to have an online presence.

Of course, with an online presence comes a number of other issues, the primary concern being cybersecurity. Many online customers are beginning to recognize the dangers of sharing financial information online with stores. This has made many potential purchasers cautious. Many want to be reassured that the company is acting responsibly with personal data and striving to limit the risks of a potential data breach.

Actually doing those things is a challenge that many businesses of all sizes are now facing. Taking the steps to ensure your company’s data files are protected from outsiders and providing clear policies on how customer data and privacy are preserved are essential. Without these efforts, business owners are at risk of not only losing customer data but of losing out on customers that no longer put trust in the company. 

Security Breaches

Security breaches aren’t exactly new, they have been around for almost as long as people have been putting important data in online databases. However, today the stakes are much higher now than they ever were before. Today, the risk of having a data breach is far higher than it was in the early 2000s.

One security breach has the power to taint a company’s reputation for a long, long time. For larger companies, this might be something that tarnishes a reputation but can be dealt with by adding new security protocols and striving to win back customer support and trust. Unfortunately, for smaller companies, one security breach can completely cripple and potentially drive them out of business with ease. 

Today, sophisticated security breaches have the power to shut down major sectors of the national or even global economy. And they can happen to seemingly any business. For instance, major data and security breaches in the first half of 2021 hampered oil pipelines, meatpacking plants, and social media accounts.

Customer Privacy

All of these data breaches have customers on edge — and rightfully so. Depending on the nature of the breach, customer data exposed could include information such as credit cards, home addresses, phone numbers, and other personal data. Loss of this data can ruin lives and shutter businesses, especially if identities are stolen as a result of a data breach. 

Beyond that, many are worried about internet safety in general. When it comes to allowing their kids to access certain sites, parents worry that they will expose themselves to internet predators or give away important identifiable information without thinking about it. Sites that are able to offer protection against that are a huge comfort. 

In fact, many experts on customer-company relationships warn that data security is quickly becoming an important factor in brand loyalty. Nearly three-quarters of consumers are worried about data protection. Although they have these fears, over 40% still struggle to recognize when their data is at risk of or has been exposed. Just as many refuse to share any data because of this. Companies that strive to beef up security stand to gain the greatest share of wary consumers.

Beefing Up Security

Taking steps to beef up customer and company data security is essential to long-term company success in today’s world. Doing so can start with hiring the right staff. Finding employees with backgrounds in data management can help the company start to shift to safer data management systems. Likewise, these professionals stand a better chance of finding and combatting any system breaches prior to data loss.

Additional steps to mitigate data breach risks include steps such as monitoring and restricting sensitive data so not just any employee can access it. Likewise, it is also powerful to take the time to educate employees on the types of risks that they may be inadvertently exposing the company and customers, too. Break down the risks and ensure that every employee understands rather than glossing over them with a quick training video.

Finally, companies should not be afraid to report suspicious activity to authorities. Many companies are reluctant to report incidents because of the overall brand reputation that is at stake. Though this is certainly a concern, reporting can aid in tracking down perpetrators and preventing additional data loss. It is an act that can help everyone in the long run.

Data and security issues are at the forefront of major concerns for many companies, especially since an online presence is nearly essential. Customers are understandably concerned about data privacy and many are in search of companies with policies they feel they can trust. From a company perspective, hiring and educating the right employees is the first step in becoming a much more secure place.

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October 13, 2021
By Corey Noles

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