Looking after your customer's personal data

Note: this is especially relevant to our March 2021 chat release.

This article is about your obligations to your customers. If you want to find out about how Chalkboard stores your own data (as a customer of Chalkboard), please read our privacy policy.

Why worry about privacy?

As a local business, looking after and respecting your customers is at the heart of what you do. So for that reason alone, it’s important to always be clear about what you plan to do with their personal information.

On top of that, in the UK, Europe, and US (and actually many other countries), there are rules and regulations about how to use your customer’s information that you need to be aware of.

But don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be complicated, and this short guide will cover everything you need to know.

In a nutshell

Personal data (or personal information) is any info that relates to a person. Thinking about Chalkboard, this primarily includes a person’s phone number, name, and any unique information shared within a chat.

When you ask for personal data from a customer, it’s important you explain what you want to do with it, and make sure you have consent from your customer (i.e. make sure they agree to that).

It doesn’t generally matter how you get that consent. In fact, simply checking with the customer in person is fine, you don’t need anything overly formal or written.

Once you do take your customers data (and store it in Chalkboard for example), you need to make sure it’s secure, that you only keep it as long as it is needed for, and that you only use the data for the reasons you agreed in the first place with the customer.

Sounds sensible right? It is. Looking after your customer’s privacy is not difficult, keeps you on the right side of the law, and builds trust with your customer.

Next, we’ll break down the advice above in some more detail.

Personal data in Chalkboard

Here is a quick breakdown of the personal data you may collect from your customers and store in Chalkboard:

  • Phone numbers
  • Name
  • Within Chalkboard Chat, any personal data that your or your customer discuss

It’s always advisable to only collect personal data if you have a good reason to. Of course, to send review requests or chat with your customers, you need their name and phone number.

When chatting with customers, try to avoid asking for personal data if you can. But if you do, bear in mind that there will then be personal data stored within your chat history with a customer. This isn’t necessarily a problem, but it’s then up to you to take care of that data.

How to get consent

The best way to get consent is simply to follow these steps:

  1. First ask the customer if they are willing to receive a review request by text message, or to keep in touch via messaging.
  2. If they are willing, tell them you’ll store their name and phone number for the purpose of sending text messages to them.
  3. Only if they are happy to go ahead, take their details and enter them into Chalkboard.

If you are taking your customer’s details online (and you’re not there in person), then make sure it is clear at the point where the customer is asked for their details, exactly what you want to do with them.

Make sure it’s opt-in, so the customer has to click an option to agree that they'd like to receive text messages, rather than opt-out only after the fact. It’s important that the customer is always in control.

Looking after personal data

Once you’ve taken your customers info, it’s important you look after it.

  • Store it securely. Chalkboard helps you with this obligation by following best security practice. Data is encrypted at rest, and we use secure connections between the Chalkboard mobile app and our servers. Make sure you secure the phone that has the Chalkboard app installed, using a passcode or similar protection at a minimum.
  • Only keep it for as long as needed. Go through your customer list periodically and delete the personal data of any customers who no longer buy from you or respond to your messages. It’s up to you to decide what is reasonable, so do what you feel is right in your situation.
  • Delete it if the customer asks. The customer has the right ‘to erasure’. That means you need to delete their data if they ask. The next section will explain how to do that. Note that there are some exceptions, depending on what country you are in. For example, in the UK, you can retain a customers data if you need it to comply with a legal obligation.

Deleting personal data

There are a few easy ways to delete personal customer data from Chalkboard.

Delete a customer. If you're looking to remove a customer from your customer list, select the 'Customers' icon from the chat tab, and search for the customer.

Once you click into the customer's name, you'll see a detail view of their profile.

Once you press the 'delete' button to the left of 'save', you'll be asked to confirm the deletion of the selected customer and the process will be complete.

Delete both a chat and a customer. Let's say the customer above has stopped buying from you or has requested all personal information to be removed from your records. Begin with the steps above shown under 'delete a customer', and when shown the confirmation message, tick the box that also deletes all associated chats with that customer.

Delete a chat. If you don't wish to delete the customer entirely but do want to get rid of personal information perhaps shared in a chat, you'll need to go to the chat view with that particular customer.

Once you're on the screen where you'd normally type in a message to send, click the three small dots in the upper right hand corner of this view.

From here, you have the option to select 'delete chat'. This will simply remove the chat (and all of the chat's content) from the Chalkboard app, but keep the customer's name and phone number in your records.

Reassuring your customers

If your customer wants more information about how their personal data is stored, you can always point them towards our guide to how we process personal information.

We also link to this guide when the customer opens a Chalkboard review link.

There are links to the privacy and terms for Google and Facebook in the guide too, because when a customer leaves a review, they will do so with Google or Facebook directly. That means Facebook and Google have their own duty to look after that individual’s personal data.

Privacy laws

Note that this guide is not legal advice, nor is it comprehensive about all the finer legal aspects of taking and storing personal information.

In the UK, personal data handling is governed by the UK GDPR. You can read about the UK GDPR at the Information Commissioner’s Office website.

In the US, there are a variety of federal and state laws that aim to protect a citizen’s privacy and online data. There is not one, large governing piece of legislation at the national level. A good starting point for more information is this Wikipedia article.

Updated 10 days ago.

If you can’t find an answer here, you can always contact our friendly team through the Chalkboard app. Click Settings, then Get help.