In this age of multimedia consumption almost 50% of adults who use the internet now use multiple social networking sites. Although most of these sites allow you to set privacy controls to determine who can view what, realistically achieving internet anonymity is a challenge in the modern technological world. In fact, a recent survey carried out by Ipsos MORI revealed that 89% of British internet users are worried about data privacy online – in particular how businesses are using their data.
With many companies now using the World Wide Web to gather information on their clients and customers – whether that’s through social media channels or by an online form or questionnaire – many people are starting to query how businesses are sharing their information or tracking their online behaviour to target ads or content.
Companies (motor retailers included) should be aware of the pitfalls and legal issues associated with the commercial use of personal data. Chances are that the average independent garage or dealership isn’t feeding data to fund government surveillance activities, but all the same, retailers should make themselves aware of online privacy laws. It could have a real impact on business, especially given that 78% of the people polled said they would avoid using an app which they believed wouldn’t protect their data.
Dealers can learn a great deal about their customers from the data generated when they register online or join their social media networks, and it can be of mutual benefit to both parties. However, it is important to recognise that there is a fine line between providing information that is relevant to the customer and bombarding them with annoying marketing materials. Every retailer has a responsibility to use it correctly and appropriately.
It’s common sense – a customer is more likely to appreciate and respond to marketing material that has been tailored to their needs or interests. A motorist in Kent for example, is unlikely to care about a financial promotion at a dealer in Scotland.
With only 5% of consumers currently believing they can trust businesses to protect their information, there is a great deal to be done to win trust.
If you have a website, communicate with your customers via email or social media, or store information in an electronic database then we recommend you follow these simple practices to prevent costly or risky data breaches and gain your customer’s confidence:
- Ensure your staff are fully trained in appropriate online and offline privacy measures, including the safe use of computers, email, online content, and handling of personal information.
- Use spam filters, a firewall and industry standard security to protect against viruses, malware and other online threats.
- Scan all new devise and USBs before they are attached to your network.
- Be aware of all the personal information you have about your customer and make sure it is encrypted and stored in a secure location.
- Attend activities such as National Cyber Security Awareness Month and Data Privacy Day to show your customers that you’re dedicated to protecting them
- Ask customers to provide written or video testimonials, with photographs to help further build trust.
- Answer any concerns or questions from customers, people like to know they are dealing with a human rather than an robot and also imparts confidence.