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Implications of using a CRM tool

The success of most organisations depends on the relationship established with customers over time. Without an active and loyal clientele, a business becomes almost non-existent. This is where a customer relationship management software (CRM) comes into play. 

In this article 

What is a CRM? 

CRM is a technology that keeps valuable insights and data about the state of a business and the status of every client or customer relationship. 

A CRM software enables businesses to collect data and improve relationships with existing customers, with the potential to leverage this information to maximise sales and grow their business as a whole. 

However, businesses that operate a CRM tool must recognise the responsibility they have to protect the privacy of data subjects. The UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) imposes strict regulations on the management of personal and sensitive data within organisations. For those who do not comply with UK GDPR regulations, an organisation could face significant fines and penalties 

As a result, it is vital that organisations review their internal processes to achieve UK GDPR compliance. Luckily, many CRM systems actually have systems in place that align with UK GDPR best practices.   

UK GDPR: An overview

The UK GDPR law applies to both data processors (data handlers) and data controllers (individuals who decide how data is handled/processed). It is essential to understand the UK GDPR under the guise of the strict data protection principles it upholds. To summarise, UK organisations should refer to the UK GDPR to ensure data is

  1. used fairly, lawfully and transparently 
  2. adequate, relevant and limited to only what is necessary 
  3. kept for no longer than is necessary and, 
  4. handled with appropriate security in mind.  

Data subjects, on the other hand, have a separate set of rights to which organisations must adhere to. Some of the rights that data subjects can exercise include: 

  1. Be Informed about how their personal data is being used or processed 
  2. Rectify or correct their personal data 
  3. Have personal data erased  
  4. Receive their personal data and transfer it to another controller  
  5. object to the processing of their personal data and 
  6. Stop or restrict the processing of their personal data 

For organisations that have a CRM system in place, this begs the question if a CRM system has the potential to be UK GDPR-compliant and if they align with data protection standards. 

By the way: In our data privacy assessment, you can get an estimate of how mature your privacy practices are. Click here to test.  

How can organisations ensure their CRM is UK GDPR-compliant? 

While achieving data protection compliance may seem daunting, a handful of CRM systems already set up users for success for data privacy best practices, such as:  

Personal data:  

Data encryption and anti-hacking tools are often already integrated in top CRMs, this ensures the proper handling of a data subjects' personal information for optimal protection. 

Consent:  

The management of opt-ins is vital for organisations to maintain a record of customer interactions and points of contact. Through email and website forms, a CRM system allows you to record all opt-ins within one database. Having a CRM in place should allow users to record consent choices and allow data subjects to withdraw their consent at any time. 

Deletion of contact records:  

The UK GDPR grants data subjects the right to request the removal of personal data without question. A CRM system allows organisations to easily identify these subjects and remove their records. This decreases the likelihood of bothering subjects in the future with any unwanted marketing for example.   

What to look out for before deciding which CRM is right for your organisation 

There are multiple steps and considerations to keep in mind before deciding which CRM is right for your business. Here are the top five features and considerations we believe can help you ensure optimal UK GDPR compliance.   

1. Ensure the protection of data 

a) While this may be fairly obvious, it is important that the protection of every data subject should be guaranteed throughout every step of their journey.  

b) It is important to look at the history of the system your organisation is considering and if it has a history of data breaches or attacks. Other features such as automated updates, limited logins and data encryption are important factors to consider. You must ensure your organisation is prepared to alert data subjects of any threats to their data while implementing a proper system to prevent it in the first place.  


2. Make sure data subjects can modify their data at any time 

a) Under the UK GDPR, Data subjects must have the right to complete control over the usage of their data. Ensure that whatever CRM you are considering, it takes the rights of data subjects seriously with appropriate actions. 

3. Privacy Notices  

a) Make sure that you update your Privacy Notice to describe and reflect the use of your CRM tool and that this is disclosed to a data subject without delay. This should occur when a data subject provides personal information, such as a valid email address. A Privacy Notice should explain the categories of personal data being stored within the CRM, the source of data, with whom the data may be shared, how long the data will be stored and more. Make sure you review the Privacy Notice of the CRM tool to understand how they process personal data as well.  

4. Audit  

a) The accountability principle states that a CRM system must be prepared to be audited to demonstrated proper compliance with UK GDPR regulations. Risk analysis and regular security audit features are essential to the integrity of the data.  

5. Training 

a) A CRM system must have proper training measures in place to ensure new users do not bring in contact data from a previous employer. Restricting CRM access is also an important feature of a CRM, so employers can define who can and cannot use certain functions within the platform’s interface.  

Closing 

A CRM system is vital to the management of customer relationships, business growth and research. However, with the use of a CRM system comes the responsibility of an organisation to research and ensure proper measures are taken to protect sensitive information and personal data. 

It is important for every business to take the proper safeguards and precautions and choose the right CRM technology for their organisation and clientele alike.

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