customer privacy

Customer Privacy in a Nutshell

Think that maintaining the confidentiality of consumers is only a consideration for business giants like Sony or Facebook? Think again.

In recent years, numerous small or big organisations have not only lost their customer base due to privacy issues, but were also sued due to these privacy mishaps. In the modern world, organisations are, morally as well as legally, obligated to deal with the private information of their customer base – quite fairly and respectfully.

SEE ALSO: Customer Engagement

Being a powerful tool to build customer relations, if you deal with customer privacy wisely, you are likely to increase the company’s goodwill and eventually lift sales. Also, this is imperative for reducing the legal, financial and reputational risk for a company.

Customer Privacy: Comcast Vows to Respect Consumers’ Privacy

Comcast – a big name in global telecommunication, including in Australia, recently pledged respect for the private information of the customers. The giant decided to distance itself from ISPs like Verizon or AT&T that lobbied the Congress to dissolve internet privacy protection.

Complying with federal privacy protection laws, Comcast first supported the removal of newly-imposed regulations. However, it clearly stated that it has no intention of selling the customer’s histories or web browsing data, and will ensure the privacy of consumers’ data.

Wonder how Google always show results and advertisements that match your current or existing interests?

The Sharing nature of consumers:

Just by visiting a website, you may be unwittingly sharing your personal information, in terms of your IP address, the page that led you to this current website and the websites you have been visiting over and over again, or the searches you have been making over the internet.

And by collecting cookies and with various advanced tracking mechanisms, companies are gathering enough information to shift user priorities and experiences pretty easily, and without directly communicating with the end user.

Eventually, what you are most likely to find on the webpage in terms of advertisements, news, and updates is everything related to your current interests!

So isn’t it good to get such kind of personalisation as a user?

Yes, it is, except in the situation when your personal information is misused, through various means and for many reasons. There is a lot of consideration, amongst many big and small start ups in Australia, for the privacy issues and what users are actually risking, while reaping this kind of personal experience.

With the increasing level of awareness amongst users about this cyber threat, companies are now forced to shift their business strategies and bring in new laws or regulations to maintain confidentiality of the information along with meeting their customers’ expectations.

Consumer Privacy as part of an Organisation’s Business Strategy

Every business strategy is now focusing on keeping customer privacy as their prime consideration in establishing laws and policies. Some businesses, however, fail to understand the importance of the data acquired by them, as well as the risks attached, and the responsibility that lies on their shoulders for its protection.

With the endless possibilities of using this data, consumers’ data is one of the most effective tools and a golden opportunity for companies to build their goodwill. Majority of the time, businesses take consumer privacy in account, only after witnessing an incident, which is why many organisations in Australia, are now changing the way they do business – keeping a good and fair balance between marketing strategies and protecting consumer privacy.

To keep it all transparent, companies are now also making these moves;

  • Better and clear communication of organisation’s privacy policies through different channels and ways that would keep it easy for customers to understand.
  • To foster trust, companies are now striving to ensure that a secured online environment is provided at all times.
  • Giving customers a better choice through various features and permission options, about sharing their private information or allowing collection of their data. Many websites are now including well-designed opt-out pages to give full control to the user for allowing or declining the collection of data.
  • Company websites are now using short term cookie timelines, also making the collected data anonymous frequently. Creating anonymous data requires masking of IP addresses and cookie identifiers, after a short while, or storing the information related to the account separately from the logs, to ensure improved security and privacy for their users.

Australian Government and Consumer Privacy

There are some privacy changes coming soon, in the next year, and organisations in Australia, must be ready to adapt to these changes that establish a strong control of consumer privacy.

Some of these changes may include;

Data breach notification is becoming mandatory from February 2018, for all organisations/entities, which are required to act in accordance with Privacy Act 1988. Following that, in May, the GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation – is also coming into force.

Together, both of these amendments, or let’s say requirements, are going to demand fundamental changes in all Australian organisations, in terms of handling consumers’ personal information, also setting the stage to introduce some of the largest privacy regulation changes in the last decade.