privacy-policyIn this day and age, every company or organization that collects any personal information (pretty much all of them!) needs a privacy policy. Since larger organizations are likely to already have privacy policies in place, I’m going to speak here to the needs of smaller organizations. Here are 3 reasons your smaller organization should create a privacy policy:

Transparency

With data breaches and identity theft constantly in the news, people are more concerned than ever about what’s happening with their personal information. They are very aware that their information is being collected, and they want to know what’s happening with it. Without a privacy policy, people may wonder what information you’re collecting about them and what you’re doing with it, and may choose not to work with you when they can’t easily find out by reading your policy clearly linked on your website.

Consistency

As your organization grows, your data collection practices may change. It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of new technology and not realize how your collection of personal information is changing. As new people join your team, they may have new ideas about what information is needed, and how best to make use of it. As things change, it’s good to have a policy as a touchstone.

Setting a privacy policy gives you a guiding light on how your organization thinks about personal information and interacts with customers. It will keep you from making drastic changes without consideration. Having a privacy policy will ensure that your team seeks to fully understand new technologies that collect information before deploying them. In the event of any legal complaints, having a privacy policy in place that your organization follows will protect you from charges that you are working outside the expectations of your customers.

Trust

It all comes down to trust. If I don’t know what you’re doing with my personal information, I am less likely to give you my personal information in the first place. If I’m not sure you’ll notify me if you change your practices or think changes through, I am not likely to want to do business with your organization. People do business with organizations they trust, and they trust organizations that are transparent and consistent with their use of personal information. Having a privacy policy in place shows all your potential customers that you take their concerns seriously, and that you can be trusted with their information.

Need help to create a good policy? The Better Business Bureau has a great sample policy here.

Coming Soon: Why You Need to Adhere to Your Privacy Policy

In the next installment in this series, we’ll take a look at what can go wrong when companies put in place solid data privacy policies, but then fail to follow them.