Your CRM software is critical to your business success. Why? Because it is all about your customers and the relationship you create with them. With that relationship comes a certain responsibility also, one to protect your customer’s information, essentially any personal details you gather about them.

How you manage that information is also vital. Just ask Home Depot, Target, and Experian among others. Small businesses are not exempt from this worry, and cybersecurity is one of the most important topics your business should be concerned about.

So how do you manage your customer’s data? Here is the what, where, how and why of customer data management in your CRM.

What You Collect

The simple rule of thumb is this: only collect the data you need about your customers. For instance, for your email list, all you need is the customer’s first name, last name, and email address. You do not need their physical address or even their zip code or phone number.

Of course, if they become a regular customer you made need this information to contact them and to market to them, but being very conscious about what you really need to gather from them and when will keep your CRM lean.

Think of it this way: whatever information you collect from the customer you are responsible for keeping secure. The more data you collect, the greater your risk. Minimizing that risk only makes sense even for larger businesses.

What You Keep

Of course, it also matters what you keep. Certainly, it is convenient to save your customer’s credit card data for future checkouts or future billing, but that means another level of security for your site. This is one reason many businesses use a third party for online transactions. Credit card data is just the beginning though.

Let’s say you run a credit check on a person or business to make sure they are creditworthy before you open a line of credit for them. You don’t want to store any of that data, even their credit score once it has been verified. The same is true of social security numbers and other sensitive information.

It is great to know your customer’s age, position at a company, the area where they live, whether or not they have children, and more. All of this can identify them and must be encrypted and secured so only those personnel from your company who need access have it.

Where You Store Data

Where do you store data? Essentially you have a couple of choices. You have your own local server, which you can secure and even isolate it from the internet, at least to an extent, or you can store your data in the cloud.

Cloud storage has some real advantages. Data can be encrypted and protected just like it would be at your physical location but is more difficult to physically access. Also, logins can show who accessed data and when, making it easier to track breaches, at least those caused by the human factor.

That is the most common issue when it comes to cybersecurity. You can protect your data all you want with encryption and other methods, but if a hacker gets someone’s credentials, there is little that can be done to stop them until the identity theft is discovered. Cloud storage makes that easier to detect and shut down if a security issue occurs.

How You Protect Data

Of course, this relates to how you protect data. Certain data can be readily available, but personal data should be behind a strong firewall and encrypted. Only those who need access should have it, and once they no longer need it, be sure you modify permissions.

Remember the Target and Home Depot breaches? Both came from the same issue: a vendor who had access they no longer needed, access that gave hackers the in they needed. Remember the keys are to secure, monitor, react immediately, but primarily to be proactive in your security approach.

Why a Customized CRM

So why a customized CRM? Simple. Every single business is different, and all of them have different security needs and data they need to store. No out of the box system will have everything you need plus not be burdened by what you don’t need. Investing in a proprietary system means that the weaknesses of larger systems can be eliminated in the first place.

Concerned about your CRM and your customer data storage? Contact us today at SixtySixTen for a free consultation. We will be happy to talk with you about your company, your security, and how we can help you both with efficiency and security.