Respect Customers' Information

Mar 31, 2007

Don't Lose Their Trust

By John A. Greco Jr.

No matter what type of business you are in, your relationship with your customers is built on trust-trust in the quality of the goods and services you provide and trust that your company is operating in an ethical and responsible manner.

In a world where virtually all transactions and many marketing solicitations are conducted electronically, a critical-but often overlooked-part of customer relationship management is demonstrating to your customers that you are vigilant in guarding their personal and financial data.

When marketing to consumers directly, follow these five simple procedures:

  • Have a privacy policy-Create written, publicly available policies for how your company treats customer data. Make sure that you follow those policies, that you keep them up to date, and that they are in compliance with all relevant laws.
  • Honor consumer requests-If consumers ask to be taken off your mailing lists, or their information not be shared with other companies, handle those requests promptly. Employees who interact with consumers should be trained to respond courteously and provide explanations of your data policies.
  • Keep your mailing lists current-Multiple mailings, incorrect addresses, and inappropriate mailings are surefire ways to irritate consumers. Keep your lists up to date with the National Change of Address list.
  • Make data security a priority-Do you encrypt the financial data you get from your customers? What's on the laptops that your employees take home? How do you ensure the security of data in transit? It is necessary to protect sensitive information both physically and electronically.
  • Know your partners-If information about your customers is handled by outside vendors, your reputation is in their hands. The firms you do business with must be committed to protecting consumer data.

Greco is president and CEO of the Direct Marketing Association.

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