A business transaction is one of trust. Your clients trust you to provide the service or good that you've offered, and you trust they'll pay you for the service or good you've provided. Is it an equal equation? Not at all. Maintaining your trustworthiness is of utmost importance for customer retention. Are you keeping their privacy in mind?
General rules on privacy
There are an estimated 205 million digital shoppers in the U.S. E-commerce websites, and service providers in all types of industries use the web to sell, interact, gather information, conduct sales, and build business. How do they protect their customers' privacy? Internet data protection is vital. Essential.
- Encrypt sensitive data, including names, contact information, health data, payment types, and account numbers. Hackers work around the clock to access private and sensitive information. According to an article on Business News Daily, "small businesses fall into hackers' 'sweet spot:' they have more digital assets to target than an individual consumer has, but less security than a larger enterprise."
- Destroy unnecessary data, shred sensitive documents and wipe away digital data. One small Seattle-area company was hacked after old laptops were stolen in a break-in. They contained information that allowed funds to be siphoned out of fraudulent payroll accounts.
- Device restriction, anti-virus software, and use of strong passwords. By allowing employees access to only the information the need, and making a company policy that employees use only company-supplied devices, maintaining control over data and access is easier. Not easy, but easier.
- Get consent for data collection. Companies should always notify customers if their data is being collected and/or shared in any way and post their privacy policies on their websites.
Prospect lists and privacy
Think of all the ways you get leads for your business. Word of mouth, website leads, direct mail, social media, cold calls, emails. Prospect lists for email or direct mail campaigns are useful ways to access potential customers. Respecting their privacy is just as important. Vendors offer direct marketing lists for a wide variety of industries. They maintain lists on home owners and mortgage holders, parents of new babies, pet owners, small business owners, people who like to buy green, motorcyclists...you name it. You can obtain a list on just about any demographic. Consumers reported in the U.S. Consumer Privacy Index that their top privacy issue is information being collected and shared with other companies, and 89 percent say they avoid companies that don't protect their privacy. So receiving unsolicited direct mail from unknown businesses carries a stalker-like, invasive feel. When you buy direct marketing lists, understand that customers may not have consented to the sale of their personal data.
Do your research
Get to know your direct marketing vendor. Check with the Better Business Bureau for a good reputation or testimonials. Ask how the list you purchased was obtained and whether or not clients gave consent. Most of all, know current client privacy laws and research cyber security for small businesses. Protecting yourself is the best way to protect your customers and build and maintain trust for repeat business. Investing in new software, building better firewalls, training employees, or a cyber insurance plan? BizLender, a leading provider of alternative lending solutions, can help you get funding to shore up your cyber-safety and keep your customers safe. Talk to a lending professional today at 855-404-3070 or apply online with BizLender.