Four Tips For Customer Information Safety & Security: The HISS Principle

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On Hold Company Reminds Businesses To Guard Customer Privacy & Safety

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Every business wants to expand its customer base and profit margins, but there's a downside to success. More customers spending more money represents an almost irresistible target to thieves, says On Hold Company CEO Bryant Wilson. "Every business needs to review security procedures, update them if needed, and train employees to protect customer's personal information and privacy."

Often, many businesses struggle with customer safety because managers mistakenly think security is a difficult issue that requires complex technical knowledge, Wilson explains. "Much of this is just common sense, and a simple acronym can remind a company to follow four important safety principles: HISS." HISS prompts a company to monitor these four basic safety concerns and responses: hoarding data; informing customers; in-person security, online safety of data.

Avoid data hoarding. Too much saved information is a security risk, especially if the company is storing the data with no plan to use it. Two Wharton business school professors recommend that companies go on a "data diet" and purge any information that's not crucial to keeping a competitive advantage. Wilson agrees: "if you don't save it, thieves can't steal it. Make sure you're retaining information for a specific purpose, not just because you can."

Inform customers when there's a problem. Recently, some customers of satellite TV provider DISH Network reported scam calls that requested payment for "equipment upgrades" and Alabama utility company Huntsville Utilities warned small business customers about a "service cut-off" scam where callers threatened service disruptions. In both cases, the organizations contacted customers and the media about the issue.

"That's exactly the right response because it shows customers you take the problem seriously," notes Wilson. "A company should use every communication outlet it has to give customers the information they need to protect their information."

One of those outlets should be on-hold messaging. Many customers still prefer to call companies they do business with. Including some information about customer safety and security can both educate callers and reassure them of a company’s commitment to their privacy. And when there is a security issue, companies can update their on-hold messages to keep callers informed.

Secure Data From Online Thieves: Protecting the customer data you do keep is just as important as purging data that's not being used. Companies must be diligent in securing their Internet connections and encrypting data that is collected, such as credit card numbers and email addresses.

Not All Thieves Are Online: Cybersecurity might be the latest rage, but companies must consider customer security at their businesses as well. Teach employees professional and ethical ways to handle customers’ credit cards and use a reliable shredding service to destroy sensitive information. And just like airports, stores and other businesses can use overhead announcements to remind customers to keep track of their purses, wallets and packages, especially during busy seasons like the holidays.

Consider customers' physical safety as well. Monitor in-store and parking lot lighting to make sure it remains bright and safe. Surveillance cameras and security guards go a long way to providing peace of mind to customers.

Investing in the right security measures helps build consumer confidence and loyalty. “People like doing business in places where they feel comfortable,” Wilson said. “Every thing a company does to ensure safety shows they have customers’ best interests in mind. And that keeps customers coming back.”

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Scott Anderson
On Hold Company
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since: 09/2010
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