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What does customer data security mean to my brand?

Most consumers understand that businesses use the personal information they collect to deliver more personalized products and services. And many appreciate the benefits, whether it means a discount on a service they purchase frequently or a recommendation for a product to try.

However, that appreciation and trust can quickly erode when personal data – from credit card numbers to shoe size – falls into the wrong hands. If that happens to your business, you will not only face potential legal and financial issues, you can also significantly diminish brand trust.

A recent study conducted by the TRUSTe/National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) Consumer Privacy Index shows that more Americans are worried about their data privacy than they are about losing their primary source of income! Protecting customer data, therefore, should be high on your list of business priorities. Here are a few ways to get started:

1. Keep encryption practices up-to-date. Encryption technologies change rapidly, so schedule updates regularly. Hackers are drawn to outdated systems. A reputable point-of-sale system, such as Clover, has these security measures inherently built-in. Your merchant processor or bank should also have a security team that is well-versed in data protection and will be happy to discuss any concerns.

2. Understand and appreciate the data you collect. The fact is, your instincts can only take you so far, and all of us have unintentional biases that can creep in and limit our ability to recognize opportunity. This is why data collection is so important. However, collect only the information you need and give customers the opportunity, either on your website or other communications to them, to opt out of sharing it with others. This shows that you respect your customers’ privacy.

3. Consider deleting data that’s not essential to you. Yes, there are business advantages to keeping customer information on file. But, depending on your business, your customers might appreciate privacy more than a special, data-driven offer. A data purge could make sense if you’ve gathered too much data and are having trouble extracting meaningful information or aren’t able to apply it strategically. You could also save money on storage costs.

4. Maintain your PCI Compliance. Just because you have achieved PCI Compliance, that doesn’t mean all is well. To keep your customers protected, you must maintain your compliance status. Remember, it’s an ongoing process, not a one-time goal that you can cross off your list.

5. Communicate with customers. Using simple, clear terms, let your customers know what you are doing to keep their information safe. While the terms encryption and tokenization might mean something to you, take into consideration your customers’ knowledge of the credit card processing universe.

Plain and simple, lost customer data is easier to recover than lost customer trust. When you tell customers how you are protecting their information, you increase their level of comfort with your company. And that is good news for your brand.

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