To stay competitive on the web, it’s imperative to establish customer loyalty, trust, and confidence. However, privacy and security issues loom as serious obstacles to reaching these important goals. Though the actual risk of credit-card data being compromised on the net is about nil – and properly executed online transactions are exceedingly secure – many customers are still a bit hesitant to type in their credit card numbers. Similarly, online shoppers voice very legitimate worries about how web sites will use their personal information, their demographic ‘identities’, and their e-mail addresses.

In order to successfully carry out business, it’s your job to reassure the public of your company’s integrity and honorable intentions. Obtaining personal information and payment data is a big part of transacting e-commerce, but in doing this you must both allay irrational customer fears as well as deal with valid client concerns. The key is to turn a potential obstacle to consumer confidence into an positive marketing tool that can promote your website. Here, boldly advertising your privacy and security policies is the means to transform customer anxiety into a sustainable client relationship based on trust.

A privacy policy is a document that explains how your company uses the information it collects. A well-defined privacy policy is a clear symbol of your company’s honesty; it should tell customers how you use their data, it should outline your mail policy, and it should explain that you always consult the customer and ask permission before taking any action that involves them or their personal data. A privacy policy signals that your business is an honorable one – one the consumer can trust, can work with long term.

A security policy outlines the precautions your company takes in order to ensure safe transactions. Outline your security protocols and advertise your policy on your web site. Reassure the customer that you use state-of-the-art security measures and fail-safe technology. If you use a payment gateway service that authorizes transactions through an up-to-date fraud screen, let your customers know that you do so. Put it in plain English and explain your guarantees.

So don’t think about your security and privacy policies as simply pieces of necessary information. View them as a means to establish the trust and loyalty of customers. Advertise your policies boldly. Creating and clearly posting these two documents will bolster your online credibility – and build a bridge to customer confidence.

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