Secure CRM and Customer Privacy

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What is Customer Privacy?

Customer privacy or consumer privacy refers to a practice of handling and protecting the sensitive personal information provided by customers in the course of day-to-day transactions. With the advent of Internet as a medium of commerce, making consumer data privacy is becoming a growing concern.

Gaining the trust of customers is typically a high priority for businesses in order to maintain their competitive advantage. Therefore, majority of businesses implement various security measures in order to protect the privacy of customers.

Personal information of customers, when misused or inadequately protected, can result in identity theft, financial fraud and other problems that collectively cost people, businesses and governments a huge amount. To deal with such issues, common consumer privacy features offered by corporations and government agencies include:

  • “Do not call” lists
  • Verification of transactions by email or telephone
  • Nonrepudiation technologies for email
  • Passwords and other authorisation measures
  • Encryption and decryption of electronically transmitted data
  • Opt-out provisions in user agreements for bank accounts, utilities, credit cards and similar services
  • Digital signatures
  • Biometric identification technology

In today’s complex business environment, organisations largely depend on the data that they collect and process. Therefore, protecting that information becomes increasingly important. Among the steps organisations take to protect the data of their users, drafting a clear and concise consumer privacy policy holds central importance.

A privacy policy is a statement or a legal document that states how a company or website collects, handles and processes data of its customers and visitors. It explicitly describes whether that information is kept confidential, or is shared with or sold to third parties.

Organisations or websites that handle customer data need to publish their privacy policies on their websites. If you own a website, web app, mobile app or desktop app that collects or processes user data, you most certainly will have to post a Privacy Policy on your website (or give in-app access to the full Privacy Policy agreement).

Need and Importance of Secure CRM

For a CRM solution to be genuinely useful, you must have strong CRM security measures installed. Otherwise, anyone looking at your CRM can see all your business operations and employee information. The very element that makes this technology valuable might kill your firm if a hacker has the appropriate motive. To deter cyber dangers, you must verify the CRM programme you chose is the best choice for you.

The safety of the data you collect from your customers is critical for one very essential reason: the success of your company is dependent on it. If your firm does not take measures to protect client data, you will be subject to hacking, which could result in a loss of consumer confidence, customers abandoning your business, penalties, litigation and other negative outcomes.

CRM systems are some of the most valuable assets that an organisation can own since they enable organisations to cultivate meaningful relationships with their consumers, discover new potential customers and increase revenue.

Hacking into your CRM and then leaking the information to the public can damage your business and erode the trust that customers have in your brand. Here, are five different methods that you may safeguard the data stored in your CRM from being hacked or exploited. The need and importance of privacy of data are as follows:

It is a law

The most important reason for why you should have a privacy policy is because you are required to comply with privacy regulations that are applicable to the locations of your customers. It is a common practice for businesses to establish websites in order to broaden their customer base, yet, doing so may subject them to additional legal requirements. The following are three notable privacy acts that you ought to be familiar with.

Third party apps require it

A growing number of third-party apps demand all of their business partners to explain how they deal with customers’ private information. Even if this criterion does, to some extent, take into account the likelihood of tighter privacy legislation in the future, the major objective of the privacy policy is to ensure that there is a closed chain of protected data, stretching all the way from the vendors to the end-users. This pattern is only going to become more widespread in the future.

Every piece of software or app produced by Google or Apple already requires privacy rules from the companies they collaborate with. In addition, due to the fact that analytics software might be so reliant on individuals’ personal information, the utilisation of any variety of it almost usually necessitates the establishment of a policy. For instance, the terms of service for Google Analytics specify that users must fulfil this criterion.

Build trust with customers

A privacy policy demonstrates to your consumers and future customers that you value their confidentiality. Even though you can develop a policy, it is not enough to win over your customers. If your users do not understand your privacy policy, they will either ignore it or think that you are trying to fool them in some way. Many consumers avoid reading privacy policies because of their length and complexity.

In fact, some laws now mandate that your policy be written in plain English so that it can be understood by every individual. While this is not required by law, having a brief and concise policy shows your clients that you value their time. Good design can also help users better understand the policy and better connect with it. Remember that openness in a document that users have gotten accustomed to skimming overdue of its complexity might help you create relationships with them.

Make customer feel informed and comfortable

In light of recent data breaches, it is easy for anyone to feel frightened or endangered. Remember that people care about their privacy. As a result, many people are motivated to learn more about how to protect their personal information and once they do, they want to take steps to do so. It is important for your clients to know that you care about their problems and that you are keeping them informed about your company’s progress.

Hence, they prefer doing business with companies who are upfront about how they collect, store and use their customers’ personal information. Customers that feel like they have a personal connection to a company are more likely to become brand advocates, which is a terrific way to spread the word about your business.

As a legal and marketing tool, a robust privacy policy is essential. It is your responsibility to ensure that your users’ personal information, such as their names, birthdays and other identifying information is protected from unauthorised access. You should also keep in mind that this contains non-descriptive information such as where you are and what you have been up to. It also covers your educational and medical background. Your customers’ trust in you could be damaged if you do not address all of these issues in your privacy policy.

Show a security first stance

Your clients and the companies with which you do business need to be aware that you take the issue of cyber security very seriously. After all, they are confiding in you the most private aspects of their lives to share with you. Your company’s privacy policy has the potential to strongly demonstrate how much you appreciate their security while also serving as a representation of the company’s principles.

SEO and marketing purposes

In the eyes of search engines, a strong privacy policy is a great thing to have. They look for websites that have privacy policies connected because they believe this is a sign that the site is secure. In fact, if you haven’t already implemented privacy policy on your website, doing so could even improve your site’s search engine rankings!

If you do not have a privacy policy in place, you will have a hard time selling advertising space on your site. In addition, not knowing why you require a privacy policy will reflect poorly on your firm, just as having one can develop goodwill with ad vendors and search engines. Privacy policies have been around long enough that humans and search engine algorithms alike regard a site significantly less trustworthy without them.

Keeping up with new and changing technology

Users’ expectations are continually evolving as technology progresses at a rapid rate. This means that privacy policies will be required for an increasing number of applications in the future. As an example, many businesses now store their data in the cloud to save money on data storage. As a result of the data being dispersed among a large number of servers, this is a novel situation in terms of privacy.

It is the right thing to do

Nowadays, ethical theorists talk about the moral right to privacy. In the case of your neighbours, for example, you expect them to not enter your home without your consent. Holding your online neighbours to the same standard is critical. Most people today are data sources for various companies, analysts and even criminals.

Because of this, everyone has the right to know what happens to the data they provide and should be able to make an educated choice about who receives it. More and more individuals around the world are pushing for privacy protections to be extended. A good thing to do is to accommodate them with a transparent, up-to-date privacy policy that explains what personal data you gather and what you plan to do with it.

How to Protect Data/ Customer Privacy?

Secure your data

The initial step is to ensure the security of the IT infrastructure that serves as the repository for your CRM data. It is vital to have a number of different layers of security so that it is much more difficult for hackers to gain access. Installing a reputable firewall that gives you control over who may access your data is a good place to start if you want to protect it. Installing a reliable anti-virus tool is the next step to take in order to safeguard your CRM data against malicious software such as viruses, worms and Trojan horses.

The majority of anti-virus solutions include anti-malware and anti-phishing features, which will enable your staff to safely browse the web. Real-time scanning is another feature that most anti-virus systems offer and it blocks intrusion attempts as they happen. Make sure that you keep your operating system (OS) up-to-date by performing frequent updates.

Every OS offers a pre-configured and highly recommended function that allows for the automatic downloading and installation of updates, including those that patch security flaws. It is recommended that users keep auto-updates turned on in order to protect any information or assets they have, despite the fact that some users choose to disable them out of concern of a loss of the Internet speed and higher data usage. You also have the option to install software on your computer that encrypts the entirety of your disk.

Choose a trusted CRM provider

Choosing a reputable CRM supplier is probably the most critical step in securing your data. The process of migrating from one CRM system to another can be quite time-consuming. So do your homework before making a final decision on a CRM provider. Research CRM software on reputable IT news sites, such as Computerworld and CNET, for balanced opinions.

As a CRM supplier, your company should be able to provide unrestricted secure access to your data while adhering to rigorous ISO 27001. Check the provider’s blog and other IT news sources to see if there have been any previous data breaches and how the company has responded to these incidents. By searching for “security breach” or “data breach” on your search engine, you can find out more about the company. Find out if your CRM supplier has a good reputation for security and transparency in communication.

Educate your employees

Inadvertent or thoughtless dissemination of documents, data or even passwords by workers is a common source of data breaches. As technology advances and new technologies emerge, your security protocols may become obsolete. Conduct a risk assessment to find out where your current security measures are lacking and repair it. Educate your employees on how to use their computers, software and data in a secure manner.

Video tutorials and role-playing workshops should also be provided in order to educate employees about what to do in the event of a data breach. Make careful to verify your security processes on a regular basis after training. Also, teach children how to avoid Internet-based attacks by teaching them about safe web browsing. Prevent important transactions on public wireless networks and learn how to avoid falling prey to phishing attacks, which could lead to the compromise of corporate and client information.

Use your password effectively

In many cases, passwords that are easy to guess are one of the most prevalent reasons for a system to be compromised. A strong password is a sentence that is at least 12 characters in length. Make sure your staff use unique passwords for each account. Employees should be taught to store their passwords in a safe area away from their computers or use a password manager.

Companies and software programmes are increasingly relying on authentication methods that demand more than simply passwords to access accounts. Additional protection against account hijacking is provided by strong authentication methods such as security keys, biometrics and/or one-time codes issued after inputting a login and password.

Monitor CRM activity regularly

You do not need to monitor every behaviour of your employees while they use your CRM system; however, you may set up security alerts that warn you in the event of unauthorised access or security breaches. This allows you to stay informed without having to follow your employees’ every move.

You also have the option of developing real-time online dashboards in order to routinely monitor the current state of the network security of your organisation and CRM system. You can swiftly keep tabs on the most important security metrics for your IT infrastructure with the assistance of several of these dashboard technologies, many of which feature out-of-the-box capabilities to interact with your security system.

Analysis of CRM Strategies

The goal of CRM is to provide a competitive edge for a company by making it the best it can be in understanding, communicating, delivering and developing current customer connections, in addition to developing new customers and retaining them. The idea of the product lifecycle is giving a way to the customer lifecycle, which focuses on developing products that anticipate the future needs of existing customers and creating services that extend existing customer relationships beyond the mere transaction.

In other words, the product lifecycle is being phased out in favour of the customer lifecycle. The customer life cycle will place more emphasis on the length of time a customer is associated with an organisation as opposed to the longevity of a particular product.

Customers have ever-evolving requirements and effective. Organisations will begin to organise themselves based on the kind of customers they serve rather than product lines they produce and mission statements will begin to place a larger emphasis on the means by which to satisfy customers.

A successful CRM strategy will take the company’s overall goal and apply it to the customer base by posing questions such as the ones listed below:

  • What kinds of goods and services will we continue to provide in the years to come?

  • In which markets do you operate?

  • Which kind of customers do you anticipate having an interest in these goods and services?

  • Which of these contributes the most to the organisation’s overall success in terms of how much money, when it comes to dependability, the return on investment, potential for expansion, etc.?

  • What other requirements do the most valuable client groups have to fulfil? Products in addition to this?

  • Are there any other services?

  • What are some other methods that we might do business in order to improve the service we provide to our customers?

Designing a CRM strategy involves four primary steps:

  • You will need to define CRM processes that are already in place within the firm.

  • Determine how the organisation is seen to handle its customer connections, both internally and externally. This can be done by conducting interviews.

  • Conceive the most effective CRM solutions with regard to the firm or the sector.

  • Deliver a strategy for the implementation of the suggestions based on the findings, which is the fourth step in the process.

However, it should be remembered that all CRM strategies cannot be adopted by all types of businesses. This is mainly because different businesses have different operational models and functions.

While analysing their CRM strategy, businesses focus on three main aspects, which are:

  • The present state of the business: Businesses seek to answer the methods they have used until now with respect to customer-related marketing, database management, retention policies and sales objectives. The same assessments go for market offerings and channels used by the businesses and help to differentiate the business objectives and the business models used and find the gaps. For this, various tools are used such as SWOT, 5C-7C-4C Situation Analysis, and a mix of BCG Matrix.

  • Challenges of business model: After having a fair view of the present situation, businesses find out the problems faced.

  • Resolution strategies: Businesses decide what appropriate CRM strategy can be used for deal with the ongoing problems.

Delivering the Benefits of CRM

In today’s world of high-tech commerce, the time-honoured maxim that the customer is always right is sometimes viewed with disdain. We are all familiar with businesses in which the client seems to pose a significant obstacle in the way of moving forward with the “actual” work. To ensure the success of a CRM strategy, it is essential to have a comprehensive grasp of the company and how it functions.

Even after it has been acknowledged that CRM encompasses more than just sales, many companies are still unaware of the entire impact that CRM has across the organisation and are unable to identify areas in which changes may be made.

Any CRM strategy should include the following processes as an essential component:

  • Product development
  • Control of stocks and supplies
  • Channel management
  • Customer service
  • Marketing campaigns, billing and invoicing
  • Sales payment management
  • Customer acquisition
  • Credit administration

Organisational procedures are what establish the foundation for successfully prolonging a customer’s lifetime with an organisation, which intrinsically and immediately increases the customer’s value and profitability for the business. The following case studies highlight how useful it is to understand the influence that managing customer relationships has on an organisation’s operations, approach, and, ultimately, its bottom line.

Approaches Practiced by Successful Business Houses in India and Abroad

Following the discussion of issues regarding customer privacy and the ramifications of these concerns, it became clear that protecting customer privacy is an important matter for businesses to take into consideration, particularly in the context of CRM. As a result, CRM managers and marketers are always looking for suitable strategies to respond to or even prevent, the worries that customers have over their privacy.

We seek to provide insights into the where companies must consider privacy issues, what legal requirement they must take into account and how they can achieve this successful implementation of responsible privacy protection practices within the context of a CRM system by adapting a checklist that was originally developed by Harriet Pearson, who is the vice president of the security council at IBM and the chief privacy officer for the company.

Align strategy and privacy concerns

Concerns about one’s personal privacy can easily convert into unfavourable brand images, which can be detrimental to a company’s precious assets. When it comes to issues of privacy and data protection, therefore, it is of the utmost importance for companies to take the initiative. This is especially true for companies that compete in information-intensive industries such as the healthcare, financial services and high-tech sectors.

Look beyond rules to values

In most cases, trust impressions of a company and its CRM processes are derived through direct interactions between customers and employees of the organisation. The incorporation of privacy and security values into the cultures of companies will, as a result, produce bigger returns than the establishment of even the most exhaustive set of standards. When values are formed from the bottom up, rather than the top down, they are more likely to be lived out rather than simply stated.

Anticipate issues

Someone ought to be in charge of looking for products or practices, either within the company or throughout the industry as a whole, that give rise to justifiable privacy concerns and then working in collaboration with stakeholders to devise solutions that are acceptable.

Companies have to be ready to collaborate not only internally but also with other companies in their field. In addition, they should think about implementing a third-party certification such as TRUSTe or the Better Business Bureau so that they can earn identifiable privacy seals and therefore communicate to customers that they adhere to strong privacy standards.

Create Accountability

A privacy or security officer’s job is to bring together and coordinate the efforts of people working in different functional silos. There should be participation from all those who are involved in setting and implementing information policies, such as the head of human resources, the chief information officer and the vice president of marketing, for example, however, there should also be a single person who is responsible and accountable for privacy efforts.

Do not conflate security and privacy

In the context of a company, “getting privacy right” means “meeting societal or regulatory expectations for what type of information is collected, how much of it is collected, with whom it may be shared, how it will be used and protected and how long it will be retained.” These expectations can be based on societal norms or on specific regulations.

Do not give in to the temptation of concentrating exclusively on data security, businesses have a responsibility to be aware of the many legal requirements that exist in the various countries in which they conduct business.

Treat privacy as a social responsibility

Privacy and data protection have a place on the corporate citizenship agenda in societies that are highly information-rich and globally connected. These topics should be discussed alongside the environment, diversity and other vital issues.

Manage your data supply chain

The obligations associated with data handling flow naturally with data that traverse corporate and national boundaries. Standards for data management are required for a business ecosystem to function properly if it is to encompass worldwide sources of talent and services. These standards must be able to rationalise the multinational patchwork of expectations and rules.

Rely on technology when appropriate

Simple tools (such as automated checklists, encryption and audit logs), however, can work miracles to enable compliance. They cannot replace excellent leadership, common sense or policies, but they can do wonders to facilitate compliance. And new skills, such as hiding people’s faces in digital surveillance systems or mining data while protecting individuals’ privacy, can assist address problems that arise when information and privacy are at odds with one another.

Plan for disaster recovery

There is no information system that is completely fail-safe. In the event that there is a data breach or loss, there should be a response plan in place that has been practised to handle the technical, individual, legal and other needs.

Heed both boomers and millennial

The norms and expectations around privacy should be considered throughout generations. One worker may feel comfortable posting images of themselves and disclosing personal information on the Internet, while another may feel uncomfortable with the idea of their company or the government collecting their biometric identifiers.

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