One of the many important ways your business uses the valuable data it collects with every customer interaction is learning more about their preferences and buying habits. This information can be helpful when deciding which banks to do business with and what credit cards to accept as well as restocking your inventory to include your customer’s’ favorite items.
Another important purpose that data serves is helping your business maintain the highest level of customers service possible. No matter which agent they speak with on the phone or communicate with through email, that agent should have that customer’s history at their fingertips for easy reference. If the customer has had previous complaints, it may be more appropriate to offer them a discount on a future purchase then merely address their most current complaint. Data helps your business by making your customers feel listened to and really heard as well as appreciated.
Access to customer data is also important for marketing, and allows businesses to target specific customers for sales and promotions based on their previous purchasing histories. Customers appreciate being singled out for special bargains that reflect their interests and favorite brands. Conversely, it can also save you from wasting time and money on advertising that targets the wrong demographic for a particular product or service.
Keeping valuable data out of the hands of the competition, as well as hackers or potential thieves, is vital for the continued success of any business organization. That data includes not just customer information with which you have been entrusted, but important data regarding your business. Inventory, performance reports, business plans and papers, employee evaluations and private communications all need the highest level of protection.
While identity theft is perhaps the most extreme potential consequence of data theft, there are many other potential consequences as well. Some hackers use the information to infect personal computers with viruses. One data breach increases the likelihood of a chain reaction of other breaches which can be as devastating to customers’ individual lives as to your business.
Although new technologies continue to be developed, digital data security systems work hard to stay a few steps ahead. Nearly every country in the world has developed a minimum set of legal standards for digital data privacy and strict regulations to protect that privacy for its citizens. When shopping for a digital security company, you should find one with a good understanding of those regulatory standards and a proven track record of meeting or exceeding them.
A data breach could have catastrophic consequences for a small business. Customer trust, once lost, is extremely difficult to earn again. A loss in customers, coupled with potential fines and lawsuits, would be enough to drive a small company completely out of business. Even large companies put a small company out of business. Even large companies are not immune to the potential financial disaster of a data breach, some of which have resulted in estimated losses of more than $4 billion dollars. Other data breaches have resulted in the resignations of CEOs or even 20 to 40 years in jail.
Protecting data is so important that several non-profit organizations have published guides that offer suggestions and list best practices for businesses that want to ensure the privacy of their customers’ data. One element of a good data security system is being aware of the potential risks involved with the increasingly popular BYOD (bring your own device), Another is creating a security hierarchy for your data, clearly delineating data as public, confidential, or restricted only to certain individuals.
Target and Home Depot were among companies that experienced the effects of a 48% increase in security incidents from 2013 to 2014. The fact that these are large corporations with thousands of employees illustrates the fact that human error is the most common cause. In addition to clearly classifying data and training employees on, and enforcing, proper password protocol, some experts recommend automating as many systems as possible. Each function that can be automated is one less opportunity for human error.
Automating repetitive tasks also frees your employees for innovation and to cultivate relationships with your customers that result in more personal data, and ultimately, more success.