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Compliance Is Not Enough: How to Manage Your Customer Data

Effective customer data management helps companies avoid data breaches and the resulting cascade of issues. From validating "clean" data to centralized storage and a data governance strategy, management steps can help keep data safe.

Did you know that over 83% of companies experience data breaches because of inaccurate data management?

Data breaches can cause serious issues, such as information leaks, file corruption, and stolen property.

Effective Data Management Steps

The good news is that you can avoid all those issues with proper customer data management. Here's what you need to know about effective customer data management for keeping your business safe, secure, and profitable.

1. Keep Data Clean

One factor of misinformed decisions involves something called dirty data. To get a better idea of what dirty vs. clean data looks like, we've broken things down in the table below:

CLEAN DATA

DIRTY DATA

  • Complete records for a corresponding database
  • Comes from the people and the system
  • Any information that's unique, valid, and accurate
  • Inaccurate, inconsistent, and duplicated data
  • Readily accessible
  • Mistaken information during data recording

Keeping data clean includes validating and updating email addresses, home addresses, and phone numbers as needed. It also involves deleting obsolete contacts and removing any duplicated data.

Data cleansing can also involve the following:

  • Performing a data audit;
  • Establishing customer data centralization across departments instead of silos; and
  • Following a consistent company data format.

When you do all these, you're enhancing your data's current value. Having clean data within your organization ensures no miscommunications or missed opportunities when interacting with current and potential customers.

2. Centralize Your Data Storage

Data storage centralization focuses on keeping data in a single location to help streamline processes and prevent inaccurate or incorrect data.

Centralizing your data storage also promotes better control and mobility of the information, enhancing your business' overall workflow and boosting efficiency.

Also, having a single data storage system allows quicker and easier maintenance. Imagine running multiple storage systems with different nodes — this makes it difficult to locate the problem whenever a failure occurs.

Finally, centralized data storage systems are easier to safeguard. In contrast, distributed storage systems become more vulnerable and difficult to analyze once a data breach occurs.

Here are a few examples of data storage that you can implement:

  • On-premises storage: A local data center set up in your physical office.
  • Cloud storage: Involves maintenance by a service provider and an internet connection for easy access.
  • Hybrid cloud storage: Combined on-premises and cloud storage, giving you more flexibility.

3. Implement Data Sharing

Data sharing is a give-and-take process that involves various departments gaining access to the company's data.

Implementing data sharing can help the company's data and analytics personnel access the data they need when they need it. This results in better analytics strategies for the business's enhanced digital transformation.

When companies allow data sharing, they also improve efficiency. This is because more employees can access the information they need, speeding up the workflow.

Of course, when implementing data sharing, you must ensure you're doing so carefully. Otherwise, you can easily run into data breach issues. And, of course, informing customers of data breach issues is never fun.

So, use trusted and encrypted data-sharing systems that allow you to transfer information among users safely.

4. Create a Data Governance Strategy

Data governance is another important part of data security and proper management and organization of information.

Essentially, it refers to managing the integrity, usability, accessibility, and security of your company's data.

Creating a data governance strategy also ensures all employees have the same goal for managing your company's customer data.

The three main parts of an effective data governance strategy include:

  • Alignment: Standardizing step in customer data collection across all departments.
  • Validation: Confirmation that data collection is performed correctly.
  • Enforcement: Changes in data collection should pass through the right channels.

The goal of a data governance strategy is a data dictionary, or a tracking plan. It should explain each piece of data collected, its owner, and the purpose of its collection.

5. Back up your data

Roughly 58% of small businesses haven't considered backing up their data. This is a big problem because if that data gets corrupted or goes missing, those businesses won't have a way of restoring it.

One key method of managing your customer data relies on backing it up. A backup protects your business against data leaks, lost data, corrupted data, and other loss-related issues.

The three most common backup methods are:

  • Full backup: Which copies all your data in storage.
  • Incremental backup: Copies all the changed data since the last backup.
  • Differential backup: A full backup at first that later switches to incremental during the succeeding updates.

Any of these methods can help protect your customer data against any type of loss.

Best Practices

Effective customer data management helps protect customer privacy and prevent internal and external communication. It can prevent serious issues such as information leaks and data corruption.

A good data management strategy should involve centralized data storage, data sharing, and data governance, clean data, and regular backups.

By implementing these best practices, you'll be able to protect your company's data while ensuring your customers stay confident in your business's reliability.