Customer data collection is an essential part of any business’s growth strategy in today’s world of digital marketing, remarketing and customer acquisition. However, when dealing with data one must be careful w.r.t the usage, privacy, and security of the collected data. When a customer shares their personal information with you, they expect that it will not be abused or messed with in anyway. Especially, now that the GDPR is official, extra care should be taken to ensure that no laws or standards are being violated by your company.

If you are not familiar with GDPR, here is a simple explanation for you.

“At its core, GDPR is a new set of rules designed to give EU citizens more control over their personal data. It aims to simplify the regulatory environment for business so both citizens and businesses in the European Union can fully benefit from the digital economy.

The reforms are designed to reflect the world we’re living in now, and brings laws and obligations – including those around personal data, privacy and consent – across Europe up to speed for the internet-connected age.”

Dealing with customer data requires proper planning and execution and when done correctly, it can help in growing your business by increasing sales, promoting customer loyalty, and optimizing your processes. In this article, we are going to discuss some important dos and don’ts of collecting customer data for online businesses. Additionally, the points listed below will help you improve your data collection process and make you more cautious when storing and using customer data.

Here are some of the key dos and don’ts of customer data handling:

Create a data collection and usage plan from day one!

Create a customer data collection plan and implement it from day one, as the sooner you start collecting data from your customers the sooner you can use it for optimization. However, don’t go on collecting data without proper planning, you should think long and hard about how you will use that data and how you will deal with the privacy and security concerns of your customers. Analyze the risks involved when dealing with data and devise a strategy accordingly.

Understand and comply with personal data rights!

Understand the personal data rights of your customers and ensure that none of the rights are being infringed as it is your obligation to fulfill these rights. Providing information about data usage, what data is kept, how it is stored, and, who you share it with are some of the things that are required from you as a business. A customer can also ask you to delete their data or correct it as and when required by them. Personal data rights are extensive and may vary region-wise. Similarly, you need to make sure that the data you collect is in adherence to GDPR regulations, as GDPR compliance is not a hindrance, instead it is a chance to better your data handling processes.

Constantly improve your data collection processes!

Consider data protection as an integral part of your business and invest in constantly improving your data handling processes as this data is the corner stone of your marketing and customer acquisition strategies. Also, do educate your employees and stakeholders on data protection, privacy, and GDPR. It is imperative to keep data protection and privacy a key consideration in all business aspects.

Use the data, wisely!

Use customer data that you have collected to give a boost to your business and don’t just collect it for the sake of collecting it. Analyze the data, use it for generating marketing strategies, formulation of new business plans, figuring out target markets, etc., because putting data to good use can give you an edge over your competitors. However, be sure to use data in adherence to data protection and privacy laws, be transparent on how you use it and also be sure to keep data security a significant concern.

Don’t track data without a plan or purpose!

Don’t track data without a plan or purpose!

Don’t start collecting customer data without a proper plan and purpose and be sure to know your objectives for data usage, protection and privacy. Collecting data is all well and good but it will be useless to you if it is not strategized and planned as diving blindly into data collection without proper planning can do more harm than good.

Don’t disregard customer requests!

If your customer makes a request or complaint regarding their data that you have stored, don’t ignore them and address them on top priority. Fulfill any data deletion, modification, usage information requests that you get from your customers and make sure you communicate well and erase their concerns.

Don’t ignore data laws and regulations

Before you set out to collect and use customer data, the first and foremost thing to do is to look into its laws and regulations. Create a proper privacy policy for your customers and address questions like which data you collect? How you plan to use the collected data? Will you be sharing data with third parties? Etc. Adhere to data privacy and protection laws as the consequences of not doing so can drive your business to its doom.

Don’t take Data Security Lightly:

Protecting one of the most valuable assets of your business, your customer data should be one of your top priorities. Implement data backup protocols, safeguards against data breaches, and make contingency plans against data loss and possible theft. It is also an excellent idea to put a data security plan in place as it will help you to be vigilant and protect your asset.

If you are looking for a plugin to build customizable forms to collect customer data try Pie Register, a registration plugin for WordPress. The plugin provides extensive customization options through various features and can help you with collecting, storing and using your data wisely!

These are some essential points regarding data collection dos and don’ts. Similarly, there are many other things that need to be taken into account while strategizing for compliance. The main takeaway from this article should be that before you start collecting data, devise a proper plan, don’t dive in head first, analyze the risks and benefits and make sure you are on top of it. If you collect, utilize, and store data correctly the possibilities and potential for your business to improve and grow will increase substantially.