This common business practice may be putting your clients at risk

Memberships and loyalty programs are the key to recurring monthly revenue and businesses all over have jumped on this bandwagon. Unfortunately the same act to secure customer retention also puts their clients’ privacy at risk anytime staff verbally requests sensitive information such as the a client’s full name, e-mail address, phone number, mailing address, date of birth, or even work information.

When it comes to protecting customer privacy, most businesses first think of beefing up their network security to prevent data breaches from hackers. The same information that many businesses ask from their clients can also put them at risk for identity theft. Sit back sometime and take note of the details that you can overhear in a waiting room, or while waiting in line for service. Is it enough to get approved for a credit card or for someone to find whether they would be worth following home?

If the answer surprises you, read on.

  • The American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) uses an articulation index to establish acceptable levels of speech privacy for business and healthcare. Although HIPAA is the most known law to protect client’s privacy, other institutions have adopted this practice to ensure the privacy of their own clients against identity theft.
  • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) states that post-secondary educational institutions make a reasonable effort to safeguard student information including finances, grades, housing, and personal health. Financial institutions hold a wealth of valuable and sensitive information on all their clients. It is vital that information is kept private.
  • The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) states that nonpublic personal information such as name, address, income, social security number, or any other information collected for transactions must be reasonably protected from the public. On average victims of personal financial information theft or identity theft, lose $13,160, and much of this responsibility falls on the firm’s negligence increasing the company’s need for speech privacy.

What you can do about it?…Plenty!

Fortunately businesses that care have options available to protect their clients from verbal privacy breaches.

  1. Create Space
    Form a line several feet away from the oral transaction; outside of earshot from those without the “need to know” or for longer discussions, offer a separate room for increased privacy.
  2. Put the Client in Control
    Let the client enter in their own e-mail address and other personal details when possible using a tablet or web portal. If this is not an option, consider a form that they can write in their details for your staff to enter. Just make sure to shred the document so that the personal information is not leaked.
  3. Sound Dampening
    Still under construction? Now is the perfect time to install high quality-ceiling tiles designed to absorb sound. Additionally look into taller cubicle walls where possible.
  4. Sound Masking
    Install  a direct field (not in-plenum) sound masking system that will uniformly mask sound overflow and reduces distractions in the workplace as well. (Tie National, LLC recently was featured in a case study by Cambridge Sound Management for using the same QtPro solution in their new facility that they sell to their own clients. To access the case study follow this link: http://cambridgesound.com/casestudies/tie-national/)

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