5 Ways For Businesses To Manage Customer Data
The appearance of new technologies revolutionized the way business is conducted and one of the largest changes is that businesses can now extend their reach globally with fewer complications. This means that the priorities have also changed and as studies show, the most valuable modern-day resource is no longer oil, but data.
This trend existed unregulated for some years and, in many instances, it was even taken advantage of. This lasted until the introduction of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in May 2018. It set standards for businesses and organizations regarding data protection and privacy of EU citizens. Having in mind the importance of customer data, here are a few pointers to help business owners and managers to accumulate and handle customer data effectively.
Educate your employees
Since your employees are the ones who handle sensitive customer data on a daily basis, it is vital they are trained on how to properly use different CRM (customer relationship management) tools. These training sessions need to be mandatory and taken each time new software is introduced.
It also goes without saying that the employees need to be careful when writing emails since personal information about one customer can end up with the wrong recipient. Also, common sense indicates that not everyone should have access to everything so restricting access to certain groups of data decreases the chances of human error and acts as a safeguard for that data.
Set collecting priorities
As a business owner, you wish for your business to thrive and to learn the likes and dislikes of your target audience, you need information on their preferences. However, it doesn’t mean that you need each and every piece of information available for collecting. It is actually detrimental to collect data you will not use in analytics since this data saturation can hinder the decision-making process and make your business a more attractive target for hackers.
So, to manage your customer data properly, you first need to decide which pieces of data are essential. You should consider the manner in which one piece of data will be analyzed and how it would affect the customer experience. For illustration purposes, think through whether you need both a customer’s email address and their phone number. Maybe just one of the two pieces of information is enough.
Put data security first
With the GDPR put into effect, as a business owner, you are expected to treat the safety of your customer data with the utmost respect. Nothing can’t be left to chance and you need to know who has access to which data at all times. As mentioned, this also means restricting access to certain data.
Another thing to be mindful of is where you store that data because it’s possible that you could be doing more to protect it. Traditional cloud computing architecture can be tricky to maintain, and this might cause the entire data center to become sluggish. For peace of mind, you could consider using the services of reliable private cloud providers who not only guarantee the comprehensive safety of your data but also a simplified architecture frame which can be expanded easily when the need arises.
Collect data transparently
Besides determining which data your business needs, it is crucial you collect it transparently. Your customers and clients trust you, so any data collection without their knowledge or consent can break that trust and seriously damage your relationship.
Just remember the incident with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica which gained access to information about 50 million Facebook users. Although this type of behavior was unethical, people still use Facebook. However, since your business doesn’t have 50 billion dollars of annual revenue, it’s best to have straightforward surveys and provide options for customers to choose which information they agree to share.
Perform customer data audits
It is not just about having data, it’s about having the right data. Data audits can be quite useful from time to time to correct or change any of the outdated or erroneous details. Having the correct information will help your employees be more efficient since they won’t need to waste time double-checking email addresses and phone numbers.
The best place to start is to list different types of data assets you have, such as CRM customer information, POS purchase information, e-mail marketing contacts, online shopping data, and social media followers. After that, it is time to organize the data by priority and to check their accuracy. These audits can even help with the data collecting process since it might provide useful tips on prioritizing on the spot instead of it being done retroactively.
Quality customer data management is essential for every business and even more so in these times when a data breach is one of the worst nightmares of any business. For the most part, practices are shaped by laws and regulations, but the rest needs to be regulated by another important aspect – your conscience.
If you approach data management with an ethical stance, you will make sure that all personnel who have access to sensitive data know how to handle them, just as you will be mindful of the accuracy and the type of data collected, the manner it was acquired and where it is stored. Handling customer data properly will result in them being more efficiently utilized to boost the growth of your business.