Protecting our customer data has always been the top priority for our businesses. But in today’s world of technology, doing this is increasingly extending beyond moral responsibility and taking on the form of legal requirement.
Different marketing and CRM softwares collect and maintain various customer data in cloud environment to use it on a daily basis for processing and marketing purposes. These client details are used for customer tracking, marketing and sales campaigning purposes. Every customer wants to keep individuals’ personal data secure and private. Hence, with cloud based CRM softwares we should have some legal regulations which should be abiding by while collecting, persisting and deleting a customer data as per the client’s privacy contracts.
Personal data collected on the customers can include names, id numbers, location data, online identifiers, profiling data and almost any data about a client. The processing of this data includes any operation performed on personal data e.g. collection, recording, storage, adaption, altering, transmitting, erasure, destruction. Various regulations are added to these processing to maintain the integrity of these collected data.
Few regulations that are being followed by different companies while collecting and processing their customers’ data are as follows:
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), European Union
- Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA), Japan
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), United States
- Privacy Act, Australia
- Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), Canada.
Along with these security norms for various CRM service providers, additional security measure are implemented by various cloud service vendors like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, IBM cloud and many more. These security measures gives users ownership and control over their content through various user friendly and powerful tools. These cloud security tools allow users to determine where their content will be stored and mode of data management.
Flexibility of choosing the kind of cloud deployment like – private, public, or multi-cloud will allow users to pick the best suited security system for their business model. Along with these measures, data owners can also choose the kind of network encryption solutions which will be best suited for their needs. Usually either virtual or hardware-based encryption is used to ensure that data is protected as it is transferred across the network cloud.
To ensure that the customer data is truly secure, cloud data encryption combined with strong key management is implemented for storing regulated data in the cloud. This combination of encryption and data key, will allow users to protect sensitive data outside of their control as it is transferred, shared or used for various cloud based environments.
To further secure the data in the cloud, it’s recommended to own both the generation and administration of the data encryption keys. Data owners can utilize a physical or a virtual key system along with hardware storage mechanism to manage the key lifecycle.
With these functionality of data encryption on the cloud, users are more involved in data security and have a better understanding of security system provided by the cloud service vendors.
Let’s discuss more on the data privacy measures followed by cloud based CRM softwares to secure and maintain customers personal information.
1. Secure the online CRM data servers
The first step for data protection is to make sure that individuals and businesses outside of your organization can’t get access to your customer data. In today’s world, we have the option of keeping our CRM customer data in the cloud. With the level of security in a cloud-based CRM solution, all your customer data is well secured and backed up using these cloud based security measures.
We should also keep in mind that in a cloud environment, the hardware and configuration of the CRM software, is only part of your security protocols. Regardless of the CRM hosting location, we need to establish documented procedures for login protocols, password resets, employee access, and physical acquisition to server hardware.
2. Role based data Access
Protecting the online server access is very important to restrict any outside invasion to your customer data. While creating various data access restriction, we should analyze below questions for each role before granting access for them:
- Does this user or role need access to this form or data for their regular job?
- Will this user need to frequently extract data from CRM, or sync it with another device or gadget, in order to do their job?
- Will there be a privacy concern for either our customers or the employees if this user has access to this information?
Once we have clear answers to all the above questions, we can easily make various filtered access to each employee and keep the data security as simple as it can get. With required access levels, there are negligible options of data leakage and misuse.
3. Regular auditing
Regular auditing and verification of employees access control versus the accessed data by them, will keep a check on any security breaches which might happen in regular workflows. List of employees who are at a high risk of damaging the organization, needs to flagged and immediately terminated before they end up making any major damage to the company’s or customer data.
Regular auditing and screening of security measures and other processes, projects any flaws or reworks that might be present in the current business operations. This help in formulating proactive and futuristic measure for effective customer data protection.
4. Employment Agreement
An employment agreement is majorly a clear communication about expected employee behavior, and legal protection to the organization if those expectations are not met.
Both the company’s management and employee should be well aware of these employment agreements to understand the mode of conduct of an employee with its employer. In an event of agreement violation, the aggressive measure should be taken to protect not only the customer and company’s property but also make a benchmark for the working procedure of the agreement clauses.
In today’s world of diversified working cultures and employee’s background, it’s very important to have common ground rules which will not only facilitate confidentiality of customer and company’ property but also help employees to understand the expectations set for each of them.
5. Customer Agreement
Once we start on a long term relationship with our customers, it’s very important for both the parties to have clear expectations from each other. With a clear set of legal agreements on the data protection and usability norms, customers are well aware of the data protection processes and procedures that are followed as per the company’s policies. Also, customers can define and customize the data privacy clauses to understand what level of data sharing is done. Some of the major queries which can be included in the agreement document can be as follows:
- Which customer information is being collected?
- Who is collecting this information?
- How and which mode is used to collect this data?
- Why particular information is being collected?
- Whom the data can be shared with?
- What is the intent of the data usage?
With above and more customised user agreement details , it gives a clear picture of which level of data protection and sharing needs to be maintained by the company.
The concept of a “right to be forgotten” is not an entirely new legal notion, but is being followed in all the mainstream CRM softwares across the globe. The principal understanding of this right is to enable an individual or company to request the deletion or removal of one’s personal data where there is no conclusive reason for its continued processing.
When does the “right to be forgotten” or erasure apply?
Every Individual or company have a right to have personal data erased and to prevent processing in specific circumstances:
- Where the personal data is no longer needed in intend to the purpose for which it was originally collected/processed;
- When the individual withdraws consent or agreement.
- When the individual objects or have concerns to the current or further processing of data and there is no other legal ground for the relevant processing activity to continue.
- When the personal data was unlawfully processed or shared.
- Where the personal data has to be erased in order to comply with a legal agreement.
A system administrator (individual user acting on behalf of their organization) can delete data from their data center and server storage. This data is deleted from the system with immediate effect and cannot be recovered by any users or company’s employees after a current or future point of the agreement date. Personal and company’s private data which has been deleted or otherwise destroyed should not be recovered at any time. Sufficient warning should be given to the account administrator before they permanently delete anything related to an individual or company’s profile.
These measures make sure that data integrity between the customer and the service providers are well understood and followed under all legal agreements.
To summarize, it is hard work to protect your customer data. Formulating agreements and setting up data security routines are the best ways to achieve a mirror view of your customer requirements. Your CRM system and business practices should be playing a pivotal role in protecting your customers and maintaining the integrity of data sharing and deletion.