Properly collecting and managing customer data is one of the most critical aspects of running a modern business. It helps companies and agencies make sure that this type of information is safe, while it also helps them glean valuable insight into what their customers expect from their product and/or service. If done the right way, customer data management immensely improves the process of making smarter and more data-driven decisions.

The math here is simple - the more data your organization collects and processes, the higher the risk of that data being stolen, corrupted or misused. The potential consequences of customer data breaches are fairly great and far-reaching. A company that faces stolen customer data, for example, can suffer long-term repercussions and can potentially go under. Additionally, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their rights in terms of personal data privacy, which means that you definitely need to step up your customer management data game.

That said, it is highly recommended that you approach customer data management with attention to detail and proper consistency, as otherwise, you are adding an unnecessary amount of risk to your business equation. 

Here are four basic steps you can take to boost your customer data management game. 

Classify Your Collected Data & Tackle Its Storage 

Before you approach other aspects of creating an optimized customer data management strategy, we suggest you first determine all the types of customer data your business is collecting. 

Most organizations deal with the following two data types: 

  • attribute / identity data (information about who your customers are)
  • behavioral data (information on what actions your customers are taking)
<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener" aria-label=" (opens in a new tab)"><em>Two most common types of customer data classification</em></a>

Once you cover this classification, it is a good idea to determine the exact storage location of those data pieces. Having a clear and granular overview of data storage will enable you to boost the accessibility of that information, while it also helps you have additional database security measures in place. 

Focus on Critical Customer Data

The previous step will also make way for determining which of your stored data is critical - and potentially the riskiest to expose to breaches - which can allow you to optimize your data storage costs and security concerns, as not all data requires the same levels of management and protection. 

It is important to mention that some consumers are not comfortable with collecting and storing too much of their personal data, so keep that in mind as well when you decide which data sets you will be managing. However, be sure to keep the data that helps you streamline your workflow and operations.  

Pay Close Attention to Data Regulations Compliance 

As we mentioned in the introduction, consumer data privacy has been the focus of many debates lately, and for good reason. Gone are the days when you could approach regulatory compliance with minimal effort and resources, as the public is taking these issues quite seriously now. This is why you need to make sure your company complies with all the necessary laws and regulations in terms of data privacy (like CCPA and GDPR), and do so across all your teams, communication networks, databases, devices, etc. 

<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener" aria-label=" (opens in a new tab)"><em>Data regulations compliance</em></a>

This new approach to data privacy laws completely changed the data management landscape, as well as the way businesses treat consumer data and collect and use it the way they see fit. Transparency has been the buzzword for years now, so be sure to take it seriously. 

When it comes to regulatory compliance in terms of data-flows across your networks and infrastructure, it is strongly suggested that you bridge all the potential security and regulatory gaps. This is especially true for email platforms as these messages tend to convey the bulk of sensitive data. For these purposes, experts recommend coming up with email retention policies that will help companies properly tackle this task. 

You never want to leave anything to chance in terms of customer data management, a huge part of which is staying compliant with all the laws. Otherwise, with regulations getting stricter by the year, you risk experiencing devastating legal and financial damage, which can ruin your business’s reputation for good.

Data Security in Focus

Making sure you mitigate any unauthorized access, disclosure, and deletion of customer data is key for creating this type of strategy. Just put yourself in their position and you’ll realize just how essential it is for a consumer to feel that their personal data is always safely and soundly stored and handled. 

Aside from the consumer’s standpoint, data breaches can cause serious financial and reputational consequences to your organization, potentially making room for the damage from which it is extremely difficult to recover. Having a solid data protection plan in place helps you obviate these scenarios. 

Quick tips for creating a solid data protection plan:

  • Determine which data is sensitive
  • Understand the lifecycle of your data
  • Know which sensitive data regulations your company is subject to
  • Decide who exactly can access which type of information
  • Involve all employees in security awareness
  • Perform regular backups
  • Document any processes using sensitive data
  • Take inventory of your data
  • Plan to organize the data you want to protect
  • Automate processes for strong ongoing protection

Wrapping Up 

Improving your customer data management plan is among the essential aspects of running a successful business, regardless of the size of your company or the industry that it belongs to. To achieve this, you need to put your customers and their concerns first and keep in mind that they are the very soul of your brand. Be sure to be consistent and keep your strategy always up to date, especially in terms of the latest data safety and privacy regulations and best practices. 

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