5 Ways of Improving Customer Privacy on Your Website

Digital Wellbeing

5 Ways of Improving Customer Privacy on Your Website

In an era dominated by digital transactions and online interactions, customer privacy should always be a top priority. A data breach can irreparably damage your relationship with a customer, eroding trust and encouraging them to move to a more responsible competitor.

How can you avoid this unwanted scenario? From understanding and complying with privacy regulations to implementing secure data handling practices, here are some simple (but essential) ways of improving customer privacy on your website.

1. Understand privacy regulations

First, you need to understand the privacy regulations in your region. Two of the most prominent frameworks are the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the United States. These regulations serve as comprehensive frameworks that shape how organizations should collect, process, and handle personal information.

A clear understanding of these regulations enables businesses to manage data responsibly and ethically. For example, according to GDPR guidelines, individuals must be given choice and control over whether their data is used — and just as importantly, how it is used. For example, businesses should make it clear how to withdraw or refuse consent for data usage and make this an easy process for customers.

2. Implement secure data handling practices

When you collect customer data, these people are trusting you to keep this information safe. To avoid harmful situations such as data leaks, always focus on making your website as secure as possible, with robust security measures that are tested and updated regularly.

For websites that handle sensitive information, such as login credentials, payment details, or personal data, a good place to start is by implementing an SSL certificate. This prevents eavesdropping and protects sensitive information from being accessed by malicious actors during transmission. 

When a website uses SSL, users see a padlock icon in the address bar, and the URL begins with “https://” instead of “http://”. This visual indication assures users that their connection to the website is secure, instilling confidence and trust in the privacy and security of their data.

3. Ask security questions

Since, for many businesses, customer service has largely moved online, you need to be mindful of who you’re sharing sensitive information with. A communication platform such as Zendesk (or one of many Zendesk alternatives such as Crisp) can be an efficient way of interacting with customers remotely, but when managing messages through a third-party platform it’s a good idea to have security questions ready for instances when personal information is required. 

These questions are typically about personal history or preferences, which are easy for the account holder to remember but difficult for others to guess. Examples of such security questions include:

  • What was the name of your first pet?
  • In what city were you born?
  • What is your mother’s maiden name?

The presence of security questions acts as a deterrent to malicious actors attempting to gain unauthorized access to customer accounts. This can give customers peace of mind that their private information isn’t shared with outsiders, whether that’s their browsing history or their bank details.

4. Allow users to opt out of data collection

Giving customers the option to opt out of data collection on your website is not just a legal requirement in many regions, but also a key step towards building trust and fostering a positive user experience. By providing users with the ability to control the extent to which their data is collected, businesses can improve the overall user experience.

Opt-out features enable users to manage their preferences, reducing the likelihood of receiving unwanted marketing materials or having their data collected without their consent. You can do this by including opt-out steps in your privacy policy, or by creating a dedicated page or section on your website that provides clear instructions on how users can opt out.

5. Encourage strong passwords

Password security is a critical aspect of protecting user accounts from unauthorized access. Unfortunately, many people choose simple and often very easy to guess passwords, which makes it easier for their data to get into the wrong hands. You can prevent this by enforcing strong password practices.

For example, asking users to include a capital letter, number and special character in their password is a simple but effective way of improving customer privacy through passwords. You should ensure that user passwords are at least 10 to 15 characters — since longer passwords are typically harder to crack — while discouraging the inclusion of easily obtainable information such as their name, birthdate, or common words.

Why is customer privacy important?

Privacy is not just a legal obligation; it’s a cornerstone of building trust and fostering a positive user experience. Not being proactive about how you keep your site secure, and therefore protect your users’ data, can lead to mistakes that can erode customer confidence and trust, turning them away from your site and potentially to a competitor.

Here are three core reasons why customer privacy is so important:

Trust and reputation

When a customer engages with your website, they’re entrusting you with their personal information. Respecting their privacy from the initial point of interaction fosters trust and contributes to a positive first impression —  a key foundation for long-term relationships with your customers. Don’t allow oversight to turn your website into an unsafe or untrustworthy destination for users.

Legal compliance and ethical responsibility

Complying with data protection regulations is not just a legal requirement but an ethical responsibility. Upholding customer privacy helps mitigate legal and financial risks associated with non-compliance, while contributing to a transparent and responsible business environment. In other words, keep your business on the right side of the law and you’ll maintain a strong position in the eyes of your users.

Customer loyalty

If your website is unsafe and doesn’t protect customer privacy, then it’s more than likely that users will go elsewhere. Whether you’re an ecommerce site holding customer account information or a financial business responsible for a large number of banking details, privacy isn’t any less important. Making this kind of protection a priority can prevent customers from going elsewhere and ensure they remain loyal to your brand.

Customer privacy is non-negotiable when it comes to fostering trust and loyalty. By taking data privacy seriously, your website becomes a safe and secure environment for users to browse, making them more likely to stay loyal to your brand.