Your CRM gathers a lot of data about your customers, and that’s a good thing, right? It allows you to provide them with a very personalized experience every time they talk to your team and helps you remember things that might otherwise be forgotten.

Besides not losing track of connections and requests, a CRM is often used to help with web personalization, a trend that businesses are developing to help customers have the online journey with your business that they want to have.

Your CRM can inform your website where the visitor is from, what they like, and even where they are in the sales funnel. Suggested products and even the home page they see can be based on previous purchases and interactions with you.

The downside is this can be a little creepy for the web visitor. Your website can determine who they are from their IP address and other behavior even before they log in to an account, causing the person to wonder “How does this site know who I am?”

Even after they log in, using too much information can turn the experience from a cool one to painting your company as a suspect stalker of their social media and their lives. The key is a balance, not only because you should be careful not to creep your customers out, but because you are legally obligated to respect and protect their privacy.

Here are a few facts, and how to keep the creepy factor out of your CRM and web personalization.

GDPR and You

First, if you have not heard of and don’t understand GDPR, you should. This is not only important if you have any customers in the EU, which you probably do if you run a website with any international components, but because other similar privacy policies are being considered in other countries and territories around the world.

Essentially it talks about several of the things we will talk about below: gathering and storing only the information that you need, make it clear how you use the information you gather, and not sharing that information without the user’s consent.

This is not only dramatically affecting marketers and how they do their jobs, but the way all website owners handle their data. What goes in your CRM and how you use it is directly affected.

What not to do: Don’t violate this law for any reason if you do business in the EU or even have subscribers or visitors from those territories. Fines are steep, and the damage to your reputation will be even more costly.

Gather Only What Data You Need

First, the admonition to gather only what you need is one you should be paying attention to anyway. Even worldwide, if you gather data you are responsible for protecting it and can be liable if it is compromised. This means that if your credit reasons, you collect a user’s social security number, you need to delete it from your records as soon as you have used it for everything you need.

This may sound obvious, but emails, addresses, and essentially any information that can be used to identify an individual is subject to these regulations. This means if you store shipping information for your customer’s convenience, you also need to make sure it is secure, along with credit card information and more.

Not only must you make sure this data is protected, but you must make sure the user knows you are storing it and why. Although most people do not even read the terms and conditions of the various sites they visit, your policies must still be available to them and must be clearly understood.

What not to do: Don’t have your system so sophisticated that it picks a stored card for the customer, or fills in too much of their information without their permission unless they have logged in and previously given you permission to use that information as a default for future issues. Always give the customer an opt-out option.

Make it Clear How You Use Information Gathered

We mentioned this above when it came to credit card information and addresses. There are simple clauses that allow you to use this information for shipping and billing, but the mistake would be to add that data to your physical mailing list without the permission of the user. Even though the connection of how you got their data would be clear, if they did not give you permission to use it that way, you could be in big trouble.

Practices like sharing or selling phone and address lists, email addresses, and more are gone anyway. Not only is it against the law, but it carries other risks with it as well. The public relations consequences of selling such information cannot be overstated. Even if your data is hacked through no fault of your own, you will still be held responsible.

This means having policies in place that are very clear about what you do with all of the information you gather, and how your customer is assured that their privacy is protected. No longer is it acceptable to hide these things deep in the legalese of your terms and conditions.

What not to do: Don’t hide your policies or misuse customer information. Your business, your reputation, and even your wallet will suffer the consequences.

Don’t Overdo It

It is great to know your customers, who they are, what they like and don’t like, where they are in the sales funnel, and how to best relate to them. It is even okay to apply this information to a web personalization project by using the data in your CRM.

However, if you use it too much, your website will feel like a creepy neighbor with a telescope and too much time on their hands. Besides, using too much information to inform your website without the users’ express consent can get you into some real trouble. You want to be personal, friendly, and knowledgeable, but not creepy.

Think of your website and even your social media along with all of the data you have about a customer like the information you gather about someone through a friendship or meeting them at a party. If you gather too much information, or memorize it and recite it back to them next time you meet, you will seem a bit odd, and they might even avoid you.

However, drop those tidbits in conversation, order them the right drink (or product or service they need in your business case) and you have become a considerate and conscientious friend. Getting this right is critically important.

Use your CRM, yes. Learn your customers and everything you need to know about them. But don’t gather or store data you don’t need. Don’t seem creepy about it, and don’t overuse that data in web personalization or anywhere else.

Need help with a customized CRM, and wonder what data to gather and how to handle it? Contact us here at SixtySixTen for a free consultation. We can help your business grow with the right CRM without getting creepy about it.