Customer data management: design for transparency, gain trust
What is data transparency?
Various sources have defined data transparency in their own unique way, but this definition by Gatekeeper is a personal favourite:
“Data Transparency is the characteristic of data being used with integrity, lawfully, fairly and traceably, for valid purposes.
Individuals and businesses should know what data is being collected, who can access it, how it's being used and how they can interact with it.”
Do you know:
- Where your data goes when you create an account, tweet, or react to a post on any platform?
- The extent of information that gets collected every time you use the internet?
The amount of data we generate is enormous. And, it exists on a spectrum, ranging from closed, to shared, to open. It is natural for users to be concerned about the misuse of their data.
What can instil customers’ confidence in you is data transparency. It is also a key principle of data protection and privacy, and ethical business.
How can you become transparent?
- Be open about data collection and usage
- Put a check on unbridled data collection
- Be candid about data sharing practices
- Be clear about data security policies
- Inform users about their rights
What type of data is collected? Personal information such as name and contact information; sensitive personal data such as credit card details and biometrics; generic data such as features and settings accessed on the website.
How is data collected? Actively, during account sign-up or payment processing; automatically, when users navigate through the website; or indirectly, when users sign-in through authentication service providers such as Google or Facebook.
How will data be used? For research purposes, for providing services, for sharing, or for simply keeping records?
It is vital that people are made aware of the purpose of data collection when data is collected.
Companies are under the notion that the more data they have, the better they can optimise their marketing strategy.
In truth, the greater the “noise”, the harder it is to separate and prioritise useful data over the rest, and higher the risk of ill-matched services.
According to Inc.com, 73% of data collected is not leveraged for analytics!
Identifying and collecting data that is inline with the products and services you provide will not only narrow down the data size but will also keep data cleaning efforts, and analysis costs low.
Consider this: Do you need to know your users' food habits if you're a charitable organisation?
Google has clearly published what data it shares when users use its account to sign-in to third-party apps and services.
Similarly, if you share users' personal data with others, you should be clear about what data you're sharing, for what purpose, with whom, and with what terms (for example, for financial gain or as part of the delivery of a service).
Users must be informed of the security measures in place to protect their data, such as data encryption, access controls and restrictions, conformity to the principle of least privilege (PoLP), strict adherence to government compliance rules, action plan in the unfortunate event of data breach, and so on.
Users have the right to know what legislations safeguard their data and what rights they have in relation to their data. For example, the right to access, the right to change, the right to erase, the right to object, the right to complain, and so on.
What are the instruments?
- Publish clear and accessible information about data privacy policies and practices on the website.
- Maintain an open and periodically updated register of data collected and its purposes.
- Notify users of any changes to their personal data usage.
- Publish information about security audits on a regular basis.
- Provide communication channels in the event that users discover flaws in their data security.
Follow guidelines, win trust
Even as companies use data to improve customer experience and boost their business, consumers desire more openness and control over their personal data, especially as technology advances.
In order to offer consumers some control over what happens to their data, various government bodies have crafted strict data and consumer privacy regulation, some significant ones being:
- The European Union’s General Data Protection Requirements (GDPR)
- California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)
- Colorado Privacy Act (CPA)
- Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (VCDPA)
By following their rules, you put yourself in an excellent position to gain the confidence of your customers.
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