Customer intelligence is an essential part of being able to provide excellent communication across a variety of channels – the more a company knows about their customer, the easier it becomes to meet that customer’s needs – but ensuring that customer intelligence is properly curated is a responsibility the company must take.

What’s up with POPI?

A particular pain point for customers is the sense of being unable to control what happens with their personal information once it’s saved in the contact centre environment. Despite the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) not yet being in place, it’s increasingly being cited as the go-to legislation governing personal details, and, in the near future, it will be.

Here’s what’s on the horizon for POPI, and what consumers (and companies) can expect:

  • South Africa’s Parliament voted recently to appoint an Information Regulator for the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) and the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), and also voted for five candidates to run the regulator.
  • This brings the date closer at which POPI will come into effect, and be signed into law.
  • Then, parties which hold personal information will have a one-year grace period to comply (which may be extended to a maximum of three years).
  • Companies that gather, receive, hold, use or share information about a consumer or business customer are affected by POPI.
  • POPI stipulates how businesses can legally process the personal information they hold.

Personal information, as defined by POPI, means any information that can be used to identify an individual or a juristic person. These include ID number, company registration number, email address, physical address and so on.

Protecting customer information critical

Wynand Smit, CEO at INOVO, says, “It is professionally and ethically important to ensure that customers’ personal information is protected, but it will take time for businesses to incorporate the efficient processes that ensure optimal compliance”.

Smit recommends that in the meantime companies do all that they can to ensure that their customer information is secure and safe from attempts of information theft, fraud or malicious hacking.

“Businesses shouldn’t say they aren’t accountable because POPI isn’t in effect yet. Protecting customer information is critical to the long-term success of a company – irrespective of whether there is an active law governing it or not. Since contact centres are often the primary customer contact point, and a lot of private customer data is stored there, this is a good place to start. This presents an opportunity for companies to upgrade their contact centre infrastructure, software and processes to gradually work towards POPI compliance.”

Companies that prize their ability to secure their customer data will discover that this makes them less vulnerable to security threats and potential reputational risk, which can only aid in generating and increasing consumer confidence in their business.

Wynand Smit



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