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Customer Privacy: How to Protect It

  
  
  
  

Protecting Customer Privacy

Customers are concerned about privacy today – and for good reason. The incidence of identity theft is on the rise, and many victims have found themselves in financial ruin as a result of these unscrupulous online thieves.

Transactions of all types are now being completed on the Internet, without any humans seemingly involved in the process. Retail merchandise is ordered online from stores we never see, and we have to assume sensitive information like credit card numbers are being safeguarded by that virtual business.

If your company is concerned about providing the highest level of service to its customers, the first step must be providing peace of mind about the safeguarding of your customers' private information.

Tips for Privacy Protection

• Begin with an audit. By completing an internal audit, you can find out what customer information is being collected and how it is currently being used. Is there some information you are taking that you do not really need? By collecting the facts about your current procedures, you will be in better shape to create new policies that will more effectively protect your customers.

• Develop a privacy policy and procedures to support it. Once the information is collected, you can then begin the process of creating a privacy policy that will be consistent across the board. Write procedures that support this policy, ensuring they are easy for everyone in your company to understand and implement. Train your employees thoroughly on your privacy policy so they are prepared to carry out the procedures and educate your customers on precisely what your privacy policy is.

• Ask permission from your customers. Customer information should never be shared with any other entities without your customer's explicit permission to do so. Make sure your customers know exactly what information you collect on them and how it is used. Allow them the option of prohibiting both the collection of such information or the distribution of it when they are uncomfortable. This gives your customer the confidence they need to do business with you.

• Enforce the policies. All of your employees should know the policies and procedures and enforce them without fail. Teach your employees how to explain policies to your customers when the procedures get in the way of completing customer requests. Security should never be breached, even for the sake of customer service, but your staff should have options to offer customers in those situations.

Privacy protection has become an integral part of customer service today. Make the protection of your customers' private information a priority for you entire company by putting the proper procedures in place and ensuring that your entire company has a thorough understanding of them.

- Meredith Estep

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