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How to Manage Customer Information Successfully with Digitisation

Protecting sensitive customers’ information is a duty that underpins the vendor/customer relationship. It is important that businesses have the proper process in place to protect this information. Digitisation of paper documents should make up part of the data protection process.

Losing customer data would not only cause a serious void in their trust, but a breach of the UK’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) could cost you up to £17.5m or 4% of your total annual turnover.

Here we have put together some of the benefits that digitisation of paper records can bring for your organisation:

Benefits of digitisation

Increased data security

Physical paper documents are at permanent risk of damage, loss or theft. Digitising documents removes the “single point of failure” problem allowing your documents to be stored and backed up to create secure copies that are never at risk of permanent loss.

padlock laying on top of laptop keyboard for secure digitisation

While attempted cyberattacks have been increasing in prevalence over the years, in both 2019 and 2020 there were more reported incidents of data breaches resulting from paperwork being lost or stolen than resulting from ransomware.

According to the ICO, one London pharmacy was fined £275,000 for failing to ensure the security of special category data. The company left approximately 500,000 documents in unlocked containers at the back of its premises. The documents included names, addresses, dates of birth, NHS numbers, medical information and prescriptions belonging to an unknown number of people. The way the documents were stored was described as “careless” and “falls short of what the law expects and it falls short of what people expect.”

Data retention management

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), businesses and organisations are not to keep personal information for longer than needed – for many, this means setting data retention policies and standardised retention periods.

However, holding physical paper documents can make this a difficult and time-consuming task in order to remain compliant. Digitised documents can be managed to automate this process by applying standard retention periods to different file types according to your existing retention policy.

Ease right of access requests

The ICO’s guidance on GDPR states that individuals have the right to access and receive a copy of their personal data, and other supplementary information, that a business or organisation is holding – this is often known as a subject access request (SAR).

A business or organisation must respond to a SAR without delay and within one month of receipt of the request and the information should be provided in an accessible, concise and intelligible format.

Paper documents make it much harder to locate a file within a limited amount of time, even in an indexed archive. Digitising paper documents using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software will make scanned documents fully text searchable. Full-text search capability ensures you will be able to comply with any data requests within a limited time using simple keyword searching across the entire database.

The larger impacts of non-compliance

Failure to comply with data regulations results in more than just fines. The impact of a data breach on an organisation’s reputation can be vast – 33% of UK businesses say they’ve lost customers after a data breach. Consumer research has also found 41% say they’ll never return to a business after a security issue and 44% say they’ll stop spending at least temporarily. 

Get in touch with our experts to discuss your document retention policies and how digitisation can help you succeed in automated retention and compliance.

Contact us today to book a free audit

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