Individuals worldwide had their lives uprooted when the pandemic and consequential lockdowns commenced in 2020, highlights Paul Holland.
Societies were suddenly required to remain divided and spend most of their time indoors, which created new obstacles to the life we knew. In many instances, organisations turned to technology to combat these new challenges, finding innovative and varied ways to connect people through the use of digital methods.
Particularly within the financial and legal sectors, remote solutions were paramount. Dealing with a magnitude of highly sensitive and important documents on a daily basis, organisations within these industries needed to find ways to connect to disparate and potentially vulnerable people under difficult and unusual circumstances. Wills and testaments needed to be drafted and managed, divorce settlements still had to be processed, and even the arrangement of housing and leasing became a more complex matter. When it came to these vulnerable individuals whose facet of life suddenly altered overnight, technology was the reinforcement they needed to support their urgent proceedings.
Digital connectivity aiding accessibility
Accessibility challenges may have curated an increased dependency on technology, but they also generated further opportunities that were not previously available to those who needed it most. Vulnerable individuals – ranging anywhere from new parents to the elderly, young people, minority groups and more – can suffer more than anyone else in isolated settings. With lockdown behind us, it is essential that this new digital age continues in order to keep connecting disparate and vulnerable people in times of crisis, using systems that are more seamless and secure.
Over time, the internet has truly developed into the nervous system of society, interconnecting all the variable parts of everyday life. Countless activities are supported and regulated by this developing technology. At this very moment, there are over 5 billion active internet users, and today alone there have been 143 billion emails sent out and over 126 000 websites hacked. These numbers provide us with a glimpse into the new hyperconnected world and how important safety and privacy should be for all organisations that have access to consumer data.
Developing a secure, integrated ecosystem
For organisations to gain the trust of their more vulnerable consumers, the focus must be placed on creating an integrated digital ecosystem that connects their customers with the information they need in a safe and secure manner. In addition, it requires a well-thought-out operational model to connect disparate individuals to the necessary data and procedures they need. By understanding the various technologies in this ecosystem, alongside how they interact between networks and the people who utilise them, organisations can create a coordinated strategy to maximise their operational use and, consequently, increase their societal impact.
Supporting vulnerable and disparate people is an essential part of keeping consumers connected to any organisation. In particular, businesses need to improve their understanding of consumer vulnerability and ensure that they are in a better position to assist those members who are at a greater risk of being disconnected. According to a study conducted by the CMA, one of the three main principles to aid vulnerable consumers in engaging with an organisation is by ‘making it easy’. Therefore, the key to helping vulnerable people is not just by providing them with the information they require, but by making it easier for them to access the information, services, and support they need.
Protection and handling of confidential information
When sharing key information with consumers in the digital world, it is important to ensure that all confidential documentation is handled in the safest way possible to avoid breaches of privacy. Keeping data secure retains the trust of customers, and organisations need to focus on what impact their security policies might have on those who use their services. Applying encryption policies that incorporate recipient validation means that consumers do not have to fear security activity and can ensure that their information is transmitted safely.
Not only should data and data sharing be secure, but an organisation’s handling of said data should also be transparent. In an ever-changing digital climate where customer data will be a growing source of competitive advantage, gaining and retaining trust will be the crucial component in future-proofing an organisation. Thus, businesses that choose to be transparent about the information they gather, use, and share, and which provide customers with control over their own data, will be considered more trustworthy and consequently earn ongoing access to this information.
As one of the leading possessors of sensitive data, the financial services and legal sector’s data privacy, protection, and security is becoming the foundation of overall consumer satisfaction. Navigating this effectively requires a balance between the personalisation of the customer experience and thoroughly implementing personal data consent and preference management.
Understanding the digital needs of the vulnerable
Disparate and vulnerable people place their trust in the services they receive, and in a time where digital technology is continually evolving, it is difficult for some to keep up with said change. Providing these individuals with an online environment, where they can securely connect with service providers who understand their individual needs, creates a safe space that allows them to carry out their day-to-day tasks with confidence.
As Warren Buffet once stated, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” By placing consumer confidence at the core of operational procedures, organisations are equipping their companies with a powerful tool to help drive them forwards in this new digital age.
Placing the customer first is one of the oldest principles that has stood the test of time. As consumer confidence relies on personalised, secure data, the success of organisations will be dependent on how well they follow these principles. In addition, businesses worldwide need to be transparent in their internal proceedings and ensure that all information is secure and easily accessible to those who need them, especially those vulnerable and disparate people.
Paul Holland is the CEO and founder of Beyond Encryption.
Paul is the CEO and founder of Beyond Encryption, a Hampshire-based company specialising in the protection of customer data through secure digital software. As the creator of the technology behind Webline, one of the UK’s most well-known comparison engines, Paul now brings his expertise to the market through Beyond Encryption’s Mailock, nigel and AssureScore solutions.