As car shoppers enter their personal information in web forms in search of the best offer, it’s important for dealers to have clear guidelines on data they collect. - IMAGE: CRISTIAN STORTO FOTOGRAFIA via GettyImages.com

As car shoppers enter their personal information in web forms in search of the best offer, it’s important for dealers to have clear guidelines on data they collect.

IMAGE: CRISTIAN STORTO FOTOGRAFIA via GettyImages.com

As if we don’t live in interesting enough times, we now exist in a marketplace where consumers in California (and likely the rest of the country, relatively soon) can ask you exactly how you use and sell their personal data, opt out of any of their data being sold, require you to tell them what data you’ve collected on them, and ask you to delete any data you may be storing about them. Data privacy has become an important issue.

Dealers work too hard to find and retain customers to let ignorance of how to handle CCPA and future privacy regulations undo all of their hard work.

As car shoppers enter their personal information in web forms in search of the best offer, it’s important for dealers to have clear guidelines on data they collect. This is especially true in 2020 in light of consumer privacy making headlines. Laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are making it mandatory for companies to be more transparent about how they collect, use, and disclose personal information.

CCPA, which went into effect January 1, requires California dealerships and their vendor partners to be vigilant about managing their customers’ personal information. Every dealer should be paying attention to this, as legislation similar to what has passed in California is expected to spread nationwide. 

Due to the high number of touchpoints with auto datasets, aspects of privacy protection and new regulations might get confusing. While I’m not a lawyer, I’ve spent my career in the automotive industry speaking to a number of dealers and executives about how they are responding. 

Steps Your Dealership Can Take to Honor Privacy 

The most responsible dealers commit to quality data compliance while collecting the necessary information to make their customers’ experiences better. Here are a few tips, based on research and discussions I’ve had, that can help: 

  • Update Your Privacy Policies and Procedures: You should have already updated your privacy policies, notified Californians of your data collection practices, enabled a method to allow California-based customers to make requests about what your business has collected on them and to opt-out of their information being sold to third parties. Further, they must be allowed to request that you delete their information.
  • Prevent Data Breaches: Protecting a consumer’s private and sensitive information should be a top priority, as data breaches have become more common and have resulted in damaging headlines and expensive settlements. Given the nature of our industry and the amount of personal information that is required to complete a car loan, dealers are a prime target for cyberattacks.
  • Work With Your Partners: Review the practices of your vendors and work with partners who offer compliance solutions. 

Creating a Better Customer Experience

Let’s put aside the mechanics of CCPA compliance for a moment and talk about what really matters: Customer experience. CCPA is simply about doing the right thing for the customer, a principle that drives all of the best auto dealers. 

Data privacy is becoming an increasingly hot-button issue for everyone. In fact, it’s why we’re seeing legislation such as the CCPA get passed. The consequences of not paying attention and doing right by consumers with regard to their privacy can be devastating, not only in terms of potential legal action, but also in the loss of trust and associated sales. 

Dealers work too hard to find and retain customers to let ignorance of how to handle CCPA and future privacy regulations undo all of their hard work.

Disclaimer: Any and all content provided (material, information, graphics, etc.), and any other versions and variations of the content (e.g. in .pdf via email or otherwise) is provided only for general information. It is not intended to serve as, or as a substitute for, legal or compliance recommendations; to advise or infer to be used in any particular way by you or your company, and not intended to be used as a basis for making business/commercial decisions.

Brian Epro is vice president, automotive, at Jornaya. He has been in the automotive industry for more than 20 years working in business development and strategy for companies like DealerRater, AutoLoop, and IMN, Inc. 

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