GDPR, Transparency & Brand Trust With May 25th fast approaching, there has been plenty of scaremongering around strict deadlines, ever-tightening regulations, true consent and large-scale compliance strategies. While the new regulations can be overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be all bad. GDPR can have a positive impact on your consumers and clients in a way that keeps them loyal to your brand while scaling trust and encouraging repeat custom and retention rates. A recent study in the UK by the Information Commissioner’s Office revealed that as few as 1 in 5 members of the British public purported to hold ‘trust and confidence’ in how businesses store and use their personal data. Accenture performed a similar survey finding that “87 percent of consumers believe it is important for companies to safeguard the privacy of their information.” Now, more than ever, is the time to focus on what your customers want. Consumers hold a strong interest in who has access to their personal data and how it’s utilised. If you have an organisation that is considering a transparent and holistic approach to how you handle customer data, you could just see a significant boost in brand trust and loyalty for your efforts – and with loyalty comes scalability. Consent Consent Consent One of the quickest ways to increase customer satisfaction around your organisation’s data handling and processing, is by clearly defining specific, unbundled and granular consent. Consent is a hot topic when it comes to GDPR. Until now, consent could be loosely implied and didn’t need to be regularly refreshed by subjects. From the end of May onwards, personal data handling guidelines within the GDPR will be treated as a regulation rather than a directive. Make sure your customers understand the parameters around the permissions your company is requesting, what the consent means for them, how long it will last and how it can be withdrawn if the subject so chooses to withdraw it. Using positive approaches to GDPR compliance can be a scary thing, but if you look at it as a brand new unique selling point you can master, customer satisfaction should increase significantly. Here’s a look at what is important to keep in mind when collecting customer consent and building trust in the process: Transparency Your customers’ personal data belongs to them. Any mishandling of what is deemed to be their property may lead to angry or anxious customers, nevermind legal ramifications and fines. Be open, clear and real about your personal data management efforts. If your customers can’t understand how you handle their personal data, how can you expect them to remain loyal and develop trust in your brand? If consumers don’t understand the processes around consent put in place by your organisation, you may lose out. Transparency ensures any consent you request is easy to recognise, understand and agree to for your customers. Keep them in the loop by keeping your intentions out in the open. Another great idea is to appoint your company Data Protection Officer, who can guide and advise your staff on how best to remain compliant and above-board. Introduce them with your new online compliance notice so your customers know they are in safe hands with a proactive and compliant business. Education In order to ensure your customers trust how you handle and use their personal data, you’ll need to become an expert yourself. Answering any questions your customers might have around data regulations and your organisation’s compliance with GDPR rules will reassure them that they’re with a brand they can trust. Don’t worry, becoming an expert on managing data with compliance in mind is not an overnight process, but rather an evolution that will occur naturally over time. Getting started on the road now ahead of GDPR implementation isn’t a bad idea for you or your business. Easy to use tools like PlanetVerify might be ideal in keeping yourself up to speed and transparent when it comes to implementing brand new ways to manage your consumers’ data with respect and compliance. Power Knowledge is power and empowering your customers is a fast track to retaining their trust. By working with apps like PlanetVerify, your business will give consumers the opportunity to easily upload, verify, store and give consent for the usage or sharing of their personal data in specific, clear and controlled ways. Collect unlimited data sets in addition to actual documents. Regardless of your business type, PlanetVerify offers something our competitors don’t – we focus on efficient, secure and compliant data collection, while our competitors typically focus on ‘verifying’ individuals. That also includes simple name and address collections of customers you might have in any business type, whether it’s a yoga studio or property advisory firm. Increase customer loyalty from the get-go and schedule a demo today.
The rental debate rumbles on Renting in Ireland is a much-discussed issue in Irish media today especially after the new Rental Regulation was introduced in December 2016. Without doubt, demand outweighs supply and rent prices have soared, with a knock-on impact on numbers of people who cannot afford housing. However, it appears it is not just the tenants who are under pressure. Observations on recent media coverage A recent article in the Irish Times examines the decision by estate agents, Hooke and MacDonald, to cut back on managing individual lettings for landlords due to the increase to cost and paperwork resulting from recent changes to residential tenancies laws. This means that many landlords are now without an agency to manage their rental property and therefore see the benefit in selling on that property rather than taking on management of the property themselves or paying for a new agency to take over. For both landlords and tenants alike, this is bad news. For the former, it means being forced to go through a sale when this may not have been their preferred time to sell or planned outcome for the property and for the tenants who cannot afford to buy, it means less rental property options on the market. With the introduction of new laws, vast amounts of paperwork and re-organisation of internal administrative processes follow suit. In this case, it seems the changes incurred are impactful enough to cause estate agents to simply draw the line at single property management. But, is there an alternative? If Hooke and MacDonald had an easier way to process and store their paperwork and keep costs down, would this dramatic move have occurred in the first place? In the article published on June 5th of this year, the firm’s MD, Ken MacDonald, told the Irish Times, “It is as easy to manage 20 properties as it is to manage one or two properties. With all the new legislation that has come in, there’s a lot of background work involved so we are cutting back.” Gathering of documents, signatures and financial records is a laborious task and can take up vast amounts of an employee’s day. MacDonald’s point that it is the same amount of work regardless of the number of properties may well be true – the initial gathering of information from a landlord who has one property is the same as the process for a landlord with 20. After that though, surely each individual rental incurs its own allocation of time spent requesting, obtaining and filing data? It is possible to make this process easier By requesting documents via a secured platform instead of via emails, you save time and ensure security for the date being requested and received. The documents can then be saved automatically by the same online tool and kept for a specified amount of time and deleted when they are no longer needed. Businesses will no longer need to engage in numerous email exchanges on top of worrying about security breaches when confidential documents are in their possession. What can be done? In a world of paperless transactions and document transfers, estate agents need a simpler way to manage this background work that Ken MacDonald speaks of. In addition, they need to know that this new method is secure; it will not only speed up their internal administrative processes and free up their staff to manage more work, it will also ensure that they are compliant with GDPR data regulations. Finally, and perhaps above all, it will ensure that they don’t have to let customers down. Click here to find out how PlanetVerify allows companies to obtain personal data directly and securely from their customers instantly and in a transparent way. Download the App or browse the PlanetVerify website to explore this advanced document gathering and verification process created with your data security in mind.
The Impact of the EU GDPR on Accountants The working life of an accountant involves daily interaction with vast amounts of sensitive data. As the introduction of the EU GDPR edges closer, it is time to talk about the impact it will have on an accountant’s day-to-day work life. Replacing the Data Protection Directive of 1995, and designed to protect against cyber disruptions and attacks, this new Regulation will be instrumental in ensuring personal data is protected properly. Accountants who are not up to speed with the EU GDPR by its introduction in early 2018 will run a serious risk of breaching the law. 8 from 10 accountants are not aware of about EU GDPR. We wanted to ascertain what knowledge is already out there, and 8 from 10 accountants* we asked didn’t know about the impact of EU GDPR on accountants. We also asked a Dublin-based Accountant to find out how prepared she is for the EU GPDR. Here is what she had to say: Are you aware of the EU General Data Protection Regulation coming into effect in early 2018? No As far as you know, can a client request deletion of personal data they have previously shared with you? I think this would depend on what the data was and why the deletion was requested. I think for regulatory purposes (mostly from a revenue perspective) firms are expected to keep all records of work done for a period of time (which would include invoicing information i.e. address etc). So it definitely isn’t as simple as just delete! Do you currently inform consumers of any data breaches impacting their personal information? Situations like that don’t arise for me as in my last 3 jobs (all corporate) the consumers are all large corporations so the dynamic / rules are different. I do think back to my audit days you were obliged to disclose if there were any breaches Do you clearly explain to customers/clients the reason/s why their data is being asked for? Yes – there would always be a full explanation given (usually for billing purposes) How do you usually delete data? I wouldn’t, everywhere I worked has had an IT department. To be honest, at the moment I have a laptop, desktop, ipad and iphone all for work and could at any given time have data on all of them that as far as I am aware gets saved into the cloud. I have no idea how IT manage cloud access and deletion. Who, besides yourself, manages the data and documents you receive? I manage the data myself unless as discussed below it is put on a shared drive Who, besides yourself, has access to the data and documents you receive? Emails wise, if it comes to just me only I have access (and likely IT) but most of the data I would receive is shared in the company shared drive so once you are past a certain clearance level you would be able to access it. Do you have a legal obligation to allow customers and clients track their personal data that you hold? Not sure if it is legal, but within each service level agreement we would have they would be allowed access to a track of this if they so wished! Gaps in knowledge Clearly, there are areas where a lack of knowledge exists and these coincide with areas where the new legislation is going to impact the role of an accountant. As well as being aware of the terms of this new Regulation, accountants should take measures to ensure adherence is as easy as possible. It is important to remember that although companies can ensure encryption of all information sent via their servers, they cannot account for those documents when they are opened on another device (personal laptop, iPhone, iPad). Sharing data through an encrypted app is secure. So, what can you do? Firstly, when it comes to providing clear notice to customers on the reasons for requesting data, terms and conditions can be included in each data request made via PlanetVerify and these must be accepted before the data can be stored. Under the EU GDPR, all data breaches must be shared with affected parties. With PlanetVerify, the likelihood of a breach is diminished by the existence of the “2 factor authentication”, meaning that even if a fraudster manages to hack a password, they will be prevented from logging on as they will also be asked for a code which only exists on the user’s device. This eliminates the risk of remote hacking which is how most fraudsters operate. Ensure that your business is prepared for this change and that you are armed to deal with inevitable cyber security threats and the growth in sophisticated and impactful hacking techniques. This is unprecedented territory; the digital revolution gains speed every day and with it come issues and risks – ask the right questions of yourself and your staff and see how those gaps in knowledge run parallel with what will soon be required of you. The EU GDPR gives customers the right to ask companies holding their data to erase it upon request. In turn, PlanetVerify provides a one-click option for customers to request deletion of data and will also send notification to the customer when this is done. With PlanetVerify, data is sent through secure channels and stored securely in one place – documents do not exist as email attachments, susceptible to hackers and constant virus threats. You are protecting the data you collect in one easy step. Call us today so you don’t need to pay a fine tomorrow. Click here to find out how PlanetVerify allows companies to obtain personal data directly and securely from their customers instantly and in a transparent way. Download the App or browse the PlanetVerify website to explore this advanced document gathering and verification process created with your data security in mind.