How Customer Privacy Relates to Business Plans
Thanks to the internet, businesses can find out about their current and future customers in lot of different ways. Many times, the visitor to a particular website won’t even know what information is being collected about them. That’s because many collecting methods are very unobtrusive.
Just by clicking on a website, you could be giving that site your IP address or information regarding the site you just left. By using cookies and various kinds of tracking data, sites can get far more information than that from their visitors.
These information gathering practices help the company’s marketing. The information they collect can be made to improve browsing, for instance. It’s possible that you have enjoyed the results of this information collection trend.
There is a growing concern for customer privacy, though. Customers are starting to become afraid of what they are giving up in order to reap some benefits from better marketing. Many companies are starting to realize just how unsettled many of their customers are becoming over the way they gather information, and as a result they are trying to be more open about their practices.
Data Collection Is Done in Many Different Ways
There are a lot of different methods that websites can employ to gather information. They may do it obtrusively, with cookies and analysing tools.
Customers also provide the information of their own free well, even if they don’t realize what is going to be done with that information. When they fill out forms, providing their address and other info, they are feeding the data collection. This data is used to create consumer profiles that help companies decide how to sell goods and services to certain types of people.
In some cases, sites will create games or contests to draw customers in and get them to divulge their information. Visitors to some sites will willingly provide some information on surveys or applications in order to access certain rewards or services.
Consumers are learning more about how their information is being gathered and used, though, and it is making many of them sceptical about what sites they visit and what those sites are doing. They are becoming increasingly distrustful, and many of them express outrage at having their information collected. A number of businesses have responded to this outcry by changing the way they do business online.
Companies Establish Trust by Protecting Consumer Privacy
As customer concern grows, a lot of companies are trying to help those customers feel better about using their sites and build up their brand loyalty at the same time.
If your business site has privacy protection information posted on it, then customers are more likely to trust you than they would a site that doesn’t. Businesses can change up their current business models to gain trust, prevent legal action and satisfy their customers. One of the best ways to decrease legal risk is to offer customers clear and concise information about privacy policies and data collection on your site.
In many cases, companies are offering their customers ways to improve their privacy and keep more information to themselves. They provide them with a measure of control over how much information is collected and passed on, but they do need to make these controls easy to use, otherwise they will feel the same level of frustration from their customers as if they don’t have the controls there at all. If the controls aren’t described very well or made accessible, then customers can feel defensive and think there might be something worth protecting themselves against on the site.
Companies have to find a way to strike a balance between collecting data for necessary purposes and making sure the customers and visitors feel safe while they are using their site. If a business can manage to do that, then it can improve its brand loyalty over time.
How Are Companies Protecting Customer Privacy?
Not every company fully knows what kind of data is being collected in its site. They may also not realize the risks they pose to themselves and to their customers. Any company that doesn’t know how much information they are gathering or how it is being used is putting themselves at risk for serious problems. If their customers find out about their failure at privacy protection, it could be too late to make the right choices for data collection policies.
There will be times when companies simply don’t realize that the way they are using customers’ data is actually harming the customer. Any company that uses customer data in the wrong way, however, can be at risk for legal and financial difficulties. They will lose consumer trust, and their business may fail because of it. This is why many businesses are making changes to their policies and are reviewing the way they collect and use data.
Some of the most common changes are these:
Greater disclosure of how privacy is maintained and data is collected, ensuring the information is related in a way that customers can comprehend.
Greater protection for customers to ensure that their information is being secured, establishing trust.
Many sites are using cookies to better effect, giving them decreased timelines and making certain that customer data is kept anonymous. These efforts can include hiding IP addresses and other identifying information after a short period of time. They can also include keeping customer information separate from other types of collected data.
Improving opt-out measures for visitors, allowing them to avoid data collection where it is unnecessary.
Where Little Government Regulation Exits, Consumers Become Concerned
There are few government regulations that protect consumer privacy online. This has caused the problem to reach a point where customers are genuinely concerned about data theft when they visit new sites. In the absence of government regulation, many sites create their own policies on privacy protection.
It is highly likely that government regulation will be enacted at some point to further protect consumers, but for now, companies need to do what they can to assuage consumers’ fears and ensure their privacy is being respected and safeguarded.
Individuals can also take steps to keep themselves safe. No matter what companies do online, individuals are able to keep themselves and their information safe, if they take the proper precautions.