• Security refers to keeping customer information safe from anyone with whom you have not planned and disclosed to share it. It involves finding the right products and technology and using them. For instance, don't turn off your network firewall because you know you plan to log on remotely while on vacation.
• Oversight refers to giving your customers an option to contact an independent party if they feel their privacy rights were abused. There are third-party privacy seal programs, such as the BBBOnline's (subsidiary of the Better Business Bureau) Privacy Seal, that offer policy review and safe harbor dispute resolution. BBBOnline is working with government and consumer organizations around the world to develop a global safe-harbor network and co-branded seals.
To do business in the 21st century, you need to realize that customer privacy is a real issue. Use it to your company's advantage by taking the following recommended steps:
• Understand what customer privacy is about (remember, it's not rocket science).
• Get a privacy seal. Use simple and consistent language to describe what you do.
• Take responsibility and demonstrate leadership. Let your customers know that you accept the responsibility of protecting their personally identifiable information as you would the credit cards in your own wallet.
• Help lead the charge in building awareness and educating the marketplace. Make your efforts visible.
Judy Kincaid is president of JK Associates, a consulting firm that helps companies invest in improving the experience of their customers through their efforts to design, build, manage and protect their customer information assets. You can reach her at (650) 838-9816, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.