More than any other issue, customers are concerned about their privacy. Recent laws like GDPR and the CCPA indicate that consumers want to be in control of their data because they don’t trust how companies are handling it. Research shows that 79% of consumers are concerned about data security and privacy issues, and multiple surveys have found it to be the biggest cause for concern for consumers, especially as the number and severity of data breaches increases. That means it should also be top of mind for companies and that they need to continually re-evaluate and update their data privacy policies and strategies.
Consider these statistics:
· 35% of U.S. households have had a data security problem in the last 12 months, including identity theft, data theft or a computer virus.
· Only 25% of consumers think companies handle their personal data responsibly.
· Just 10% of consumers believe they are in complete control over their personal data.
· 69% of consumers believe companies are vulnerable to cyberattacks.
· Nearly 70% of consumers look for honesty and transparency with their personal data when deciding what companies to trust.
· 42% of consumers believe companies should clearly communicate how they are complying with data regulations.
· 72% of consumers believe companies are the best to protect their data, not the government.
Clearly, companies have a large responsibility to not only protect their customers’ data, but to share their strategies. Building trust and retaining customers depends on how well a company can secure customer data.
With that in mind, here are five areas to include in your data security strategy:
Data security starts by monitoring customer data for potential threats. Know what data you hold and where it is stored. After all, you can’t keep something safe if you don’t even know where it is. Monitoring customer data means staying ahead of potential cyberattacks. Think of it as being a watch guard that ensures the data is safe.
What would you do if your system is hacked? How would you shut down the problem and limit the damage? Set up a plan to regularly test your cybersecurity system. This could include spot checks of various programs or full-blown mock attacks to see how the system and your employees respond. Testing can highlight issues and weaknesses, which allows you to make changes and corrections before a real attack hits.
Your cybersecurity plan needs to comply with changing regulations, especially in areas that are impacted by new consumer privacy acts. Depending on the success of GDPR and CCPA, these widespread acts could become more prevalent, which means companies need to be prepared. Staying compliant not only helps the company avoid large fines, but it also signals to customers that your organization is aware of cybersecurity challenges and is working to protect their data and give power back to consumers.
Customers want to be aware of how their data is being collected, used and protected. To gain customers’ trust, you must be transparent about cybersecurity. Create a systemized plan for transparency, including regularly updating customers on their security and giving them options to opt out of data collection.
Just because you’ve made a cybersecurity plan once doesn’t mean you’re done forever. Hackers and technology are constantly evolving, and your cybersecurity plan needs to adapt as well. Update your software and devices to the most current versions, regularly evaluate your approach to security and move to protect consumer data. You should always be looking around and towards the future for potential threats and then adapting appropriately.
Cybersecurity, especially when it comes to their personal data, is crucial for modern customers. To become an industry leader and build trust, companies need to create a strong data security plan that they continually test and adapt to ensure customer data is safe and secure.
This article was first published on Forbes.com.
Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and the author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her weekly newsletter here.