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To build trust with customers, companies need to be clear regarding what data they are collecting, where they are sending the data and why they are using it.

Customers are developing a new understanding of how their personal data is shared due to the multitude of data breaches that have become news headlines in recent months. If you deal with data in an unfair or hidden way, you will be exposed and, very likely, lose customers.

A statement made in 2012 by Austrian lawyer Max Schrems still rings true today: "Information about people is power over people." During the Europe versus Facebook case, Schrems exercised his right as a European Union (EU) citizen to access all data that Facebook held on him since the company's European headquarters is located in Dublin, Ireland. Under the EU Data Protection Directive, citizens have a "right to access," meaning at any time they are entitled to know exactly what data a company headquartered in the EU has on them.

The case put a spotlight on data protection and data privacy rights—rights that we often forget we have, or should have, with the companies we frequent.

Though the EU has recognized this and is continuously reforming its laws to fit in with the changing digital economy, other countries such as the United States and Canada need to keep up with the new privacy requirements. That is especially true given that a brand's reputation can now be ruined overnight in the age of the Internet. Large companies might weather these storms, but most companies are much more sensitive to brand mishaps.

To raise brand loyalty and put customers back in the driver's seat in managing their data, consider these tips.

1. Provide privacy options for customers

For many business leaders, it seems counterintuitive to allow customers to delete their information whenever they choose. For instance, what is the point of having digital marketing tools that track customers if you are constantly losing their information? How is this sustainable in terms of building a customer base?

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image of Elie Auvray

Elie Auvray is CEO and co-founder of Jahia, an Open Source Software vendor serving clients across a wide range of industries.

LinkedIn: Elie Auvray